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Site of Goverxou Tryon's Rksidence (Russellboro) and Scene of Resistance to the Stamp Act 

Orton House 

A History 


New Hanover County 

and the Lower 
Cape Fear Region 

Volume I 





Establishment of the precinct in 1729 (changed to county in 
1738) — Its limits — Boundary line between Xorth and South 
Carolina-^The town of Brunswick and its history — History of 
St. Philip's Church-^The Stamp Act troubles — Sons of Lib- 


The names of the earliest plantations, their location and their 
owners, with items of biography and incidents. 


Under Martin's administration-^Fire in Wilmington— A bold 
adventuress — The Scotch immigrants and Flora McDonald — 

.* Beginning of the Revolution — Help for Boston — Organization 
of Safety Committees. 


Proceedings of the Safety Committee of the town of Wilmington, 
with occasional minutes of joint meetings of the Committee 
of New Hanover County and the Committee of the District of 
Wilmington, in 1774, 1775 and 1776. 


' Burning of Fort Johnston and expulsion of Governor Martin — 
Vigilance of the Wilmington Committee — Movement of Scotch 
Highlanders — Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge — Colonel 
Moore's report — Letter of Colonel Purviance. 


Martin's and Parry's correspondence with the Committee — 
Clinton's Proclamation — Howe's plantation plundered — Brit- 
ish abandon the Cape Fear until 1781 — Craig comes in 1781 — 
His operations. 


'"' Wilmington from 1736 to 1800. 


Fort Johnston and Smithville ( now Southport ) . 


Interesting items from court minutes. 



What is called the Lower Cape Fear Region of North Caro- 
■ lina has long been recognized by the writers of our history as 
the most interesting, and, as one of them designated it, "the 
most romantic" section of our State. Yet, up to this time, al- 
though partial sketches, historical and biographical, have ap- 
peared, no attempt at a regular history of it has been pub- 
lished, and, now such a history can not be written because 
of the destruction, by fires and otherwise, of a large part 
of the material requisite for the purpose. There was, perhaps, 
no part of the country where so many planters' residences with 
all their contents were lost by fire as on the Cape Fear and its 
tributaries, and it is well known among the descendants of 
those planters, some of whom were also members of the 
learned professions, that by these' fires many manuscripts, 
family records, and documents of various kinds that would 
have been invaluable as material for the preparation of a local 
history, were lost. Besides these fires, the town of Wilmington 
was at an early period, as well as several times afterwards, 
nearly destroyed in the same way with the same results. 

None of the ancient official records of the town of Bruns- 
wick were preserved, and a considerable part of the County 
records were destroyed by Northern soldiers when the town of 
Smithville (now Southport) was captured by them in 1865. 
Some of the town records of Wilmington of an early period 
have also disappeared. 

There is enough material, however, for a fairly full history 
in the publications referred to, in the court records, and espe- 
cially in the Colonial Records ; and the writer of this book has 
undertaken the task of collating all the facts bearing upon the 
subject that are known. The volume covers only the period 
from 1723 to 1800. A second volume extending the vv^ork to 
the beginning of the war of 1861-65 may be published, if con- 


sidered advisable. When this book was first projected WiUiam 
B. IMcKoy, Esq., of the Wilmington Bar, intended to unite 
with the author in preparing it as their joint work, but Mr. 
AIcKoy found it impossible to devote the necessary time to it, 
and reluctantly abandoned the enterprise. He, however, gen- 
erously furnished some valuable material from his unequaled 
store of notes and memoranda on our local history, for which 
the author desires to make especial acknowledgment of his 
thanks. Mr. McKoy promises to publish at som.e early day a 
small work entitled "Chronicles of Wilmington." 

The author is also under obligations to Messrs. Junius 
Davis, R. D. W. Connor, James Sprunt and J. Alves Walker, 
for various documents kindly loaned that have been helpful 
to him. 


Wilmington, Nov. 5,' 1909. 


Establishment of the: Precinct in 1729 (Changed to 
County in 1738) — Its Limits — Boundary Line Between 
North and South Carolina — The Town oe Brunswick 
and Its History — History oe St. Philip's Church — 
The Stamp Act Troubles — Sons oe Liberty. 

In the first subdivision of that part of the province of 
"Carolina" which has since the year 1729 been known as North 
CaroHna, all the territory south of Albemarle and extending to 
the Cape Fear River was called Bath County, but its limits 
were undefined toward the South.* This southern part was, 
however, by an Act of Assembly, passed in July 1729, "erected 
into the precinct of New Hanover," the boundaries of which 
were prescribed to be "to the Northward by the Haule-over 
and Little Inlet, and to the Southward by the Southernmost 
bounds of the Province." 

There were several places call the "Haulover" along the 
coast lower down than that named in the act. Little Inlet is 
marked on Wimble's map (1738), and was north of New 
River and between it and White Oak river, which identifies it 
with either Brown's, or Bear Inlet. 

In 1734 an act was passed reciting that "as the precinct of 
New Hanover is now become very populous, and the extent 
thereof being found too incommodious to many of the inhabi- 
tants thereof, particularly those of New River and the upper 
part of the North West river," it was therefore enacted that a 
precinct be erected at New River by the name of Onslow pre- 
cinct, and in the same Act "the upper part of the Northwest 
river" was "erected into a precinct by the name of Bladen 
precinct," the boundaries of each being prescribed. •(• 

The southern boundary of New Hanover, named in the Act 

* The territory south and west of the Cape Fear river, of which Yeamans was appointed 
governor in 1664, was named Clarendon county and extended to Florida. Albemarle and 
Clarendon were established in 1664, and Bath in 1669. 

t Martin's Pub. Stat., 38. 

8 HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 

of 1729 was ''the Southernmost bounds of the province," as 
already stated. 

Where was this southernmost boundary Hne? For some 
time after the first settlements were made on the lower Cape 
Fear River that river was supposed to be the boundary line, 
and many grants for land south and west of the river were 
made by the Governors of the southern province (South Caro- 
lina) which then claimed and still claims the name "Carolina," 
but in the year 1729 the nominal division into North and South 
Carolina was generally recognized, and a start toward running 
the boundary line was made in 1734,''' but it extended only a 
comparatively short distance, and the line continued to be a 
subject of doubt and uncertainty for half a century or more. 

'•This matter of boundary," says McCrady-j- in his History 
of South Carolina, "had not been of so much importance while 
the two colonies constituted but one province. But now that 
under his Majesty's government the territory was divided and 
distinct governments established, it became necessary that the 
limits of the two provinces, as they now were, should be 
definitely defined. In fact, however, this matter was not finally 
settled until 181 5, and in the meanwhile was the subject of 
many disputes." 

The original controversy over the boundary line arose out 
of the apparently conflicting instructions on the subject from 
the home government to Governor Burrington, of North Car- 
olina, and Governor Johnson, of South Carolina, as to whether 
the line should be run from the mouth of Waccamaw River, 
or from a point thirty miles from the mouth of Cape Fear 
River, and continuing thence westwardly. Burrington dis- 
played maps to the authorities in favor of the latter and his 
contention was sustained. 

The line as finally run looks like a series of steps from the 
Atlantic toward the northwest for half its length, and an 

* The commissioners on the part of North Carolina to run this hne were Eleazer Allen, 
Edward Moseley, Robert Halton, Mathew Rowan, and Roger Moore. 

t II, 110. In his Prefatory Chapter to the second volume of the Colonial Records, Col- 
onel Saunders gives a very interesting summary of the history of this controversy. 


irregular west line for the other half, and, like some other 
State lines, is a geographical absurdity illustrative of the jeal- 
ousy and land grabbing propensity of our race. 

The Atlantic Ocean was the eastern boundary of New Han- 
over County, and the western boundary was ''the South Seas," 
which was a term in common use, but conveyed no more 
meaning in the then state of geographical knowledge than "the 
land of sunset" would have done; but it was sufficient to em- 
brace a territory of the width of the county indefinitely west- 
ward, which made it literally a boundless empire with a very 
sparse population confined to the extreme eastern end."^ 

New Hanover precinct was alleged to have been unlawfully 
estabhshed by Governor Everard and his council without the 
concurrence of the Assembly in 1729, but John Swann and 
John Porter were in that year elected representatives to the 
Assembly, and Swann was admitted to his seat, although 
Porter does not seem to have taken his. The act establishing 
the precinct was part of an act for regulating vestries, which 
act was repealed as to church matters, but not specifically 
repealed as to the precinct. 

It was a matter of controversy up to the time of Dobbs's 
administration, and in 1760 Dobbs wrote to the Board of 
Trade a full statement as to the legislation, justifying his 
order for an election of representatives to the Assembly, and 
that caused a final settlement of the matter. 

New Hanover is now the smallest county in the State, con- 
taining, according to a United States survey, only about 
122,752 acres, or approximately 192 square miles, in the shape 
of a narrow triangle pointing southward, and is the southern- 
most county, except one (Brunswick) in the State. 

In the treatment of his subject the author will confine him- 
self chiefly to the territory generally called the lower Cape 
Fear region, embracing the present county of New Hanover, 
and the counties of Bladen, Brunswick, and Pender. He will 

* Out of the territory of New Hanover the whole southern tier of counties of the State, 
including Onslow and Duplin, and thence westward, was carved. The dates of their re- 
spective formation may be found in Wheeler's History and other books. 

lo HISTORY o:^ NEW hanovi:r county. 

not go back to the first attempts at colonization by the New 
England adventurers in 1660, and the Yeamans colony in 
1664-65, for they were only temporary settlements and inter- 
esting incidents in our earliest history; but he begins with the 
first settlement at the town of Brunswick and along both 
branches of the river in the years 1723, 1724, and 1725. Con- 
temporaneously with, and even prior to the settlement of the 
town, the larger part of the best lands on both branches of the 
river had been patented by the wealthier settlers. 


The history of this vanished town, of which the only re- 
mains are the four walls of its once imposing church, some 
tombstones, and the basements of some buildings covered by 
the mould of the surrounding forest, is both interesting and 
pathetic. It was laid out in 1725 on part of 320 acres of land 
given for the purpose by Col. Maurice i\Ioore, second son of 
Governor James jMoore of South Carolina, who had first come 
to the Albemarle country to aid in the suppression of the 
Indians in 171 3, and, after making his home there for about 
ten years, removed to the Cape Fear, having induced his two 
brothers, Roger and Nathaniel, living in South Carolina, and 
other friends there and in Albemarle, to unite with him in 
founding the new settlement. A recital of some of the 
facts connected with the establishment of the town is con- 
tained in the preamble of an Act of Assembly passed in 1745, 
twenty years afterwards, entitled : "An Act to encourage per- 
sons to settle in the town of Brunswick on the southwest side 
of the Cape Fear River," which act also recites the conditions 
as to trade and navigation on the Cape Fear, and other facts, 
as good reasons to justify its passage. 

At March term, 1727, of the General Court, held at Eden- 
ton, the following entry was made: 'It being represented to 
this Court that it is highly necessary that a ferry should be 
settled over Cape Fear River, and that part of the province not 
being laid out into precincts, therefore it is by this Court or- 


dered that the ferry be kept for that river by Cornehus Har- 
nett from the place designed for a town on the west side of 
the river to a place called the haule-over*, and that he receive 
the sum of five shiUings for a man and horse, and half a crown 
for each person, and that no person to keep any ferry within 
ten miles of the said place." 

The Cornelius Harnett named in the order of the Court was 
the father of the distinguished man of that name, justly called 
"the pride of the Cape Fear," and was afterwards the inn- 
keeper at Brunswick. He came from Albemarle, where he 
had married Mary,-!* daughter of Martin Holt (who succeeded 
him as inn-keeper and owner of the ferry), and he was after- 
wards the first sheriff of the county in 1739-41. His son and 
only child, above mentioned, married Mary, daughter of Joshua 
Grainger, Jr., and left no issue. ;{; 

f When established it was confidently believed that the town of 
Brunswick would grow into an important city, because of its 
situation near the mouth of the largest navigable river in the 
province, and because it was the only town in that region. It 
certainly seemed a reasonable belief, but, owing to various 
causes, the hope of its founders was never realized^ However, 
during the half century of its existence it was the theater of 
stirring^vents, some of which are justly entitled to an honor- 
able place on the page of Jiistory. It was the place of residence 
of three Colonial Governors — Johnston, Dobbs and Tryon — 
and three acting Governors — Rice, Rowan and Hasell — and 
the Assembly of the province convened there several times. 
It never reached larger proportions than those of a small town, 
having a white population of not more than four hundred, but 
there was not at that time, if ever since, a town on the continent 

* This haulover was nearly opposite Brunswick, and the land there was conveyed by 
Maurice Moortrfco Col. Thomas Merrick April 21, 1736. 

t WiU of Mary Holt, mentioning C. Harnett, Jr., as grandson. — N. H. Records, C, p. 328. 

t The name of Cornelius Harnett's wife was unknown, even on the Cape Fear, for nearly 
a hundred years, and until discovered by the present writer through references in wills and 
the fitting together of names and facts, which settled the question. Her sister was the 
mother of Judge Joshua Grainger Wright, and the ancestress of the prominent Wilmington 
family of that name. The four daughters of Joshua Grainger, Jr., Ann, Elizabeth, Mary, 
and Catherine, married Thos. Wright, Obadiah Holt, Cornelius Harnett, Jr., and Henry 
Young. Holt was Harnett's uncle and their wives were sisters. 



of the same size that contained so many men who afterwards 
became equally distinguished in military and civil life, as an 
enumeration of some of them will show. First among them 
were Maj. Gen. Robert Howe and Cornelius Harnett, Jr., and 
Gen. John Ashe, and Gen. James Moore, and Judges Maurice 
and Alfred Moore, and Attorney-General Archibald MacLaine, 
and Chief Justices Allen, Hasell, and Smith, and others of 
whom further mention will be made when giving a list of the 
estates on the Cape Fear in the early days. 

In laying out the town, lots were provided for a church, a 
market, and other public structures.* 


The history of the parish and church, which was the largest 
and handsomest one in the province, is as follows : In the year 
1729, a year before there was any organized parish on the Cape 
Fear, the Rev. John LaPier, "a French Huguenot who had 
been ordained by the Bishop of London in 1708, and for many 
years had served a congregation of his own people in South 
Carolina, called St. Denis Parish," came into the region of the 
Cape Fear River upon the invitation of the people. He served 
for several years and removed to New Bern about 1735. He 
was succeeded by Rev. Richard Marsden, who had also been a 
minister in South Carolina from 1705 to 1709, but had removed 
to New Hanover and become a planter, trader, and ship owner. 
He died in I742.j- These two ministers served both St. Philip's 
at Brunswick and St. James's at Wilmington. Then in 1741 
Rev. James Moir, also from South Carolina, came to St. James's 
first and then to St. Philip's, and served until about 1746, when, 
without notice, he went to Edgecombe on invitation of the 

* At December Term, 1739, of the County Court, a poll tax of five shillings was laid to 
build a court-house and jail at Brunswick, but this tax was afterwards applied to build a 
court-house and jail at Wilmington, in pursuance of the determination of Governor John- 
ston and his faction to remove the seat of government to that place, and thus destroy the 
older town and the dominating influence of the Moores and their connections, who were 
designated as "The Family," and who had brought with them about twelve hundred 
slaves into the settlement. 

t John Ellis, in an affidavit made at Brunswick September 17, 1747, stated that he sailed 
in June on the brigantine " John and William," Thomas Corbett, Master, and that she was 
captured by the Spanish privateer "St. Gabriel, the Conqueror," and sent to Hispaniola, 
but was retaken and sent to St. Simons, and that the brigantine belonged to Rev. Rich- 
ard Marsden. 






people. He died at Suffolk, Vsl., in February, 1766, on the 
eve of returning to England. 

In 1746, Rev. Christopher Bevis, who had been in the Cape 
Fear settlement since 1729, preached at the court-house in 
Wilmington, and was then called to the church at Brunswick, 
where, Governor Johnston in 1748 mentioned, he had been for 
two years, and that he had lived all these years as a layman in 
the province, was generally esteemed and respected for inno- 
cence of life and blameless conversation, and only within the 
last few years let it be known that he was in orders. He 
proved that he was ordained by the Bishop of Peterborough 
in 171 1. The Governor recommended him to the "Society for 
the propagation of the Gospel" to fill the vacancy caused by 
Rev. James ■Moir, who had, without asking leave, left for the 
northern part of the colony. Air. Bevis, in a letter, November 
I, 1748, mentioned that he was born in Peterborough, North- 
amptonshire, and educated at the free school till 1703; then 
went to Edmund College, Cambridge, and abode there six 
years ; took the degree of A.B., entered orders as a Deacon in 
the same Cathedral Church, afterwards served in the cure of 
Bannocks, Northamptonshire, for six or seven winters, then 
in the cure of' Paston, then Wilby for five or six years, and 
in 1728 he gave up on account of hemorrhages, and in 1729 
came to Cape Fear. Mr. Bevis was not able to attend long 
to his duties on account of ill health, and returned to his 
plantation, where he died in 1750. In his will, dated December 
13, 1750, he left his estate to the church wardens of St. Philip's 
church for the use of the church, and appointed Richard Quince 
his executor. 

In 1754, Rev. John McDowell became minister at Wilming- 
ton, which was then the largest town in the province. He had 
been put in orders upon the recommendation of Governor 
Dobbs, and spent the whole of his ministry in the parishes of 
St. James and St. Philip. April, 1760, he was made a mis- 
sionary of the Society upon the recommendation of the vestry 
of St. Philip's church, and the approval of the Governor 


(Dobbs). From 1754 to 1757 he was at St. James's church, 
and in the latter year took charge of both St. James's and St. 
PhiHp's. The church at Brunswick was expected soon to be 
finished. It was the largest and most pretentious in the prov- 
ince.* Richard Quince and John Davis were church wardens, 
with Robert Snow, Richard Eagles, Benjamin Davis, Thomas 
Neal, John Davis, Jr., James Murray, John VVatters, Joseph 
Watters, and William Dry, vestrymen. 

Governor Dobbs wrote to the Society, April 15, 1760, upon 
the petition of the vestry, and mentioned that St. Philip's was 
the parish where he resided, that the roof of the church was 
now being put on, and that he purposed when it was finished, 
to make it his Majesty's chapel in the government; that his 
Majesty was pleased to give the communion plate, surplice 
and furniture for the communion table and pulpit, with a 
Bible and Common Prayer books — ''so that the service will 
be performed with decency," and that the church ''is the largest 
and most complete in the province, and may be an exemplar 
for building other churches." 

Mr. McDowell says that the walls are finished and the 
roof partly done, and to be finished in the summer, a parsons 
house to be actually built and a glebe provided, and that Colonel 
Dry, the Collector, and Mr. Richard Quince, merchant, deserve 
special mention for their zealous interest in the work. The 
Governor is to put up a pew for himself and the Council. He 
has a very good vestry. 

In May, 1761, he says, the church is not done, the old chapel 
was repaired, and Mr. Dick, the carpenter, who had been work- 
ing on the Governor's house, was to undertake the work. 

In 1759 an act called the Lottery Act was passed for the 
benefit of St. James's and St. Philip's parishes, and in 1760 an 
act was passed appropriating the funds received from the sale 
of the effects of the Spanish pirates, whose attack on the 
town is hereinafter described, to the benefit of these churches. 

* It was 763^ feet long by 54.8 in. in width, and the height of its walls, as they stand 
to-day, is 34.4. There are 11 windows which measure 15 by 7 feet each, 3 doors, and the 
thickness of the walls is 33 inches. It was floored with large square bricks, and fitted, as 
others of its kind, with large square pews. It is the most interesting ruin in the State. 


In April, 1760, the vestry and wardens of St. James parish — 
John Swann, John Lyon, Bishop, Christopher Dud- 
ley, and Jonathan Evans — send Mr. McDowell a certificate 
expressing their satisfaction with his services while in their 
parish, and Mrs. Allen, then in London, writes to Charleston 
in his behalf, mentions his singular temperance, his happy 
disposition, and strong and healthy constitution. 

In November, 1760, he was bereft of wife and child, leaving 
with him an infant son twelve months old. With his home 
broken up and increasing responsibilities, he applied to the 
vestry for increase of salary, to which the vestry, then consist- 
ing of John Paine, James Murray, William Dry, Richard 
Eagles and Robert Snow, reply in a very sharp letter, remind- 
ing him that he ought to be able to support himself now with 
a diminished family on what he had before. 

In July, 1760, just as the church was nearing its completion, 
in a severe thunder storm it was struck by lightning, and the 
roof, which had been just finished, all fell down. The chapel 
which was used is described as a miserable old building, 24 
feet by 16 feet, which was drenched by every shower, and the 
wind blew through it. 

Mr. McDowell became disheartened and visited Charleston, 
in hopes of finding a more desirable place, and was offered a 
parish by the Governor, but, apprehensive of the displeasure 
of the Society whose aid he was soliciting, returned to Bruns- 
wick. He was now 44 years of age, but the exposed life in 
this new country had impaired his strong constitution. There 
were 800 taxables in the parish, which included, (except white 
females) the white, black, and mixed blood over twelve years 
of age, and among these there were only fifteen communicants, 
two of whom were black. 

In 1762, the Society at last made Mr. McDowell a mis- 
sionary, which increased his salary. He had then been in the 
province nine years, but his ministry was near its close ; the 
strong, vigorous and healthy man had succumbed, and the fol- 
lowing year he died. In his will he directed that his body be 


buried at the east end of the church near the grave of his 
wife, Sarah ; tradition says that he was buried within the church 
beneath the altar. He left his infant son to the care of the 
Governor and his uncle John Grange, and requested that he 
be brought up under Mr. Richard Quince and sons as a 

In a letter to the Society announcing his death it was said 
he was a good man, faithful in his sacred office, and well 
deserved to be a missionary. 

In 1764 Governor Dobbs wrote to England for a minister, 
and Rev. Mr. Barnett was sent out in 1765. In the meantime 
the Governor was in correspondence with Mr. Ichabod Camp, 
of Middletown, Conn., a missionary who was inclined to come 
to Carolina if encouraged, but would lose his mission if he 
should do so without the consent of the Society. 

Mr. Barnett came after the death of Governor Dobbs, 
strongly recommended both in England and America, was 
appointed a missionary to officiate both in St. Philip's and St. 
James's, as his Excellency Governor Tryon might think proper 
to direct, and for the first year he resided in the parish of St. 
James. In 1766, he was removed to Brunswick, and, like his 
predecessors, extended his services to remote congregations. 

The work on St. Philip's church was renewed with energy. 
Having suffered by fire in the attack of the Spanish pirates, 
and the roof having been torn off by a terrible hurricane in 
1760, for the third time it was drawing near its completion. 
The glass and sash arrived in 1766 for the windows, and in 
June, 1768, it was advanced enough to hold service in. 

On Whit Tuesday, 1768, Rev. Mr. Barnett, assisted by the 
Rev. Mr. Wills, of St. James's, dedicated the building. Not 
having a form of service for the occasion, he drew up one. 

Mr. Barnett was desirous of being inducted into office by 
letters from the Governor, to secure some certainty of holding 
his station permanently, which now depended on an annual 
election by the vestry, but he discovered that the people were 
violently opposed to induction by the crown, and he shortly 


after resigned and removed to the interior where there was 
no opposition, and was inducted in a parish in DupHn County. 

In 1768, a young comedian, Mr. Gifford, arrived in Bruns- 
wick, and won the respect of the people for his talents and 
ability. He was recommended to the Governor as a proper 
person to take orders, and open a school for the youth of 
the town. 

The Governor, in his letter to the Bishop of London, ex- 
pressed the opinion that he did not think that the Bishop would 
like to take an actor into the church, but if he did so it would 
be the taking off of the best player on the American stage. 
What became of him we do not know. 

No history of St. Philip's parish would be complete if the 
name of William Hill should be omitted, for he was the only 
Lay Reader there, of whom we have any knowledge, and was, 
perhaps, the most exemplary member of the parish in the per- 
formance of his religious duties as the head of a family, and 
as an officer of the church. He was, consequently, highly 
esteemed by pious folk, and respected by all who knew him. 
He was commonly referred to as "the elegant gentleman from 
Boston." Josiah Quincy, when on his tour in 1773, mentions 
being his guest and hearing him read the service at St. Philip's, 
and characterizes him as "a. most sensible, polite gentlemen, 
and, though a Crown officer, a man replete with sentiments of 
general liberty and warmly attached to the cause of American 
freedom" — a tribute fully justified by Mr. Hill's letter to the 
Safety Committee the next year in regard to the importation of 
tea, in which he asserted the doctrine that the safety of the 
people is the supreme law.* 

Mr. Hill died August 23, 1783, and is buried in St. Philip's 
churchyard. He left four sons — John, an officer in the Revo- 
lution, Nathaniel, a graduate of Edinburgh, and distinguished 
physician, William Henry, member of Congress and first U. S. 
District Attorney for North Carolina, and Thomas, a planter, 
and cultured gentleman. 

* See ch. IV, p. 3. 


Many of the residents of Brunswick owned plantations in 
the surrounding country, on which they lived, but spent much 
of their time in the town. One of the first settlers was Col. 
John Porter who got a grant for 640 acres below the town, 
July 14, 1725, and the next year conveyed it to Governor 
Burrington. This tract on the oldest charts is called Governor's 
Point and Sturgeon Point. Governor Burrington, who has 
been by most writers of North Carolina history unsparmgly 
and bitterly criticised and denounced as possessing no worthy 
characteristics, was not quite as bad as he was pamted, but 
he was quite an early bird in securing desirable lands, and 
was frequently engaged in broils with the planters about titles. 
He was first appointed Governor in 1724 under the Proprietary 
Government, but was succeeded by Sir Richard Everard in 
1725 and then moved from Albemarle to the Cape Fear to 
look 'after his landed interests. He went to England in 1730, 
and the Crown having bought out seven of the eight Pro- 
prietors in 1729, he was appointed the first royal Governor in 
17^0 and came back to North Carolina in 1731- I" 1732 he 
wrote to the Government as follows: "A multitude of people 
have come into this country to settle last winter. Some have 
very great American fortunes. I now think there are men 
here to make up a creditable Council."* 

Having had a controversy with Col. Maurice Moore abou 
the title to valuable lands at Rocky Point, which the Colonel 
was ready to settle with guns with which he had armed his 
retainers, Burrington in 1731, i" a dispatch to the Cdoma 
office, tried to square accounts with him by saying . About 
20 men are settled on the Cape Fear from South Carolina- 
among them are three brothers of a noted family whose name 
is Moore. These people were always troublesome where they 
came from, and will doubtless be so here'-.f He was justified 
from a Government standpoint in saying so, for only twelve 

tCol. Rec.,111, 338. 


years before that time, in 17 19, Col. James Moore, the eldest 
brother of Col. Maurice Moore, led the revolution in South 
Carolina against the Proprietary Government and was made 
Governor, as his father had been in 1701, and he was also the 
grandson of the leader of the Irish rebellion in 1643 — ^ re- 
bellious tribe indeed. Burrington also recommended the estab- 
lishment of a new town on the Cape Fear to supersede Moore's 
town of Brunswick, as Governor Johnston did later by the 
establishment of Wilmington in 1736. 

Gabriel Johnston succeeded Burrington as Governor and 
took the oath of office at Brunsvv^ick on the 2d November, 
1734. Under his administration the Colony generally, and the 
Cape Fear country especially, prospered. Many settlers came 
there from different places, bringing retainers and slaves, ac- 
quiring valuable lands and adding to the general culture, 
material and intellectual. They lived in ease, with abundance 
of rural comforts, and dispensed a generous hospitality. 

As illustrative of this hospitality and the miode of life of 
these early settlers, a pamphlet published in the second volume 
of the Georgia Historical Collections, entitled "A New Voyage 
to Georgia," dated 1734, and written by a young English 
gentleman who had visited the Cape Fear settlement, says : 

''We left Lockwood's Folly about eight the next morning, 
and by two reached the town of Brunswick, which is the chief 
town in Cape Fear, but with no more than two of the same 
horses which came with us out of South Carolina. We dined 
there that afternoon. Mr. Roger Moore, hearing we had come, 
was so kind as to send fresh horses for us to come up to his 
house,* which we did and were kindly received by him, he 
being the chief gentleman in all Cape Fear. His house is built 
of brick and exceedingly pleasantly situated about two miles 
from the town and about half a mile from the river, though 
there is a creek that comes up close to the door between two 
beautiful meadows about three miles in length. He has a 
prospect of the town of Brunswick, and of another beautiful 



brick hoiise,'^ a building about half a mile from him, belonging 
to Eleazer Allen, Esq., late speaker to the Commons House 
of Assembly in the province of South Carolina. 

"There were several vessels lying before the town of Bruns- 
wick, but I shall forbear giving a description of that place; 
yet on the 20th June we left Mr. Roger Moore's, accompanied 
by his brother, Nathaniel Moore, Esq., to a plantation of his 
up the Northwest branch of the Cape Fear river. The river 
is wonderfully pleasant, being, next to Savannah, the finest 
on all the Continent. 

''We reached the forks, as they call it, that same night, where 
the river divides into two very beautiful branches, called the 
Northeast and Northwest, passing by several pretty plantations 
on both sides. We lodged that night at one Mr. John Davis's, 
and the next morning proceeded up the Northwest branch; 
when we got about two miles from thence we came to a beauti- 
ful plantation, belonging to Captain Gabriel,-j- who is a great 
merchant there, where were two ships, two sloops, and a 
brigantine loading with lumber for the West Indies ; it is about 
twenty-two miles from the bar. When we came about four 
miles higher up we saw an opening on the northwest side of 
us which is called Black River, on which there is a great deal 
of very good meadow land, but there is not any one settled 
on it. The next night we came to another plantation belong- 
ing to Mr. Roger Aloore, called the Blue Banks, where he is 
going to build another very large brick house. This bluff is 
at least one hundred feet high, and has a beautiful prospect 
over a fine, large meadow on the opposite side of the river; 
the houses are all built on the west side of the river, it being 
for the most part high champaign land ; the other side is very 
much subject to overflow, but I can not learn they have lost 
but one crop. I am creditably informed they have very com- 
monly four score bushels of corn on an acre of their over- 
flowed land. It very rarely overflows, but in the winter time 
when their crop is off. I must confess that I saw the finest 

'Lilliput. t Gabourel— Joshua Gabourel, who came from the Isle of Jersey. 


corn growing there that ever I saw in my Hfe, as Hkewise 
wheat and hemp. We lodged there that night at one Captain 
Gibbs's adjoining Mr. Moore's plantation, where we met with 
very good entertainment. The next morning we left his house 
and proceeded up the said river to a plantation belonging to 
Mr. John Davis, where we dined. 

"The plantations on this river are all very much alike as to 
the situation, but there are many more improvements on some 
than others; this house is built after the Dutch fashion, and 
made to front both ways on the river and on the land. He 
has a beautiful avenue cut through the woods for above two 
miles, wdiich is a great addition to the house. We left his 
house about two in the afternoon, and the same evening 
reached Mr. Nathaniel Moore's plantation, which is reckoned 
forty miles from Brunswick. It is likewise a very pleasant 
plantation on a bluff upwards of sixty feet high." 

This traveler says he did not see "so much as one foot of 
bad land" after leaving Brunswick. With some of his hosts he 
visited Lake, of which he said he had heard much 
and wished to see, and pronounces it "the pleasantest place 
that ever I saw in my life." The quantity of game he saw on 
the trip — deer, turkeys, geese, and ducks — amazed him. After 
a visit to Rocky Point, which, he says, "is the finest place in 
all Cape Fear," and where he was entertained by the leading 
planters, he returned to South Carolina. 

The Court of Common Pleas was held at Brunswick, and 
in 1738, according to the Records, it was presided over by 
Nathaniel Rice, afterwards acting Governor, Matthew Rowan 
also later the acting Governor, Eleazer Allen, afterwards Chief 
Justice, James Innes, a distinguished colonel in the French 
War, Col. Robert Halton, also a distinguished soldier, and 
Cornelius Harnett, Sr. 

War having been declared between England and Spain in 
1740, Governor Johnston was active in raising troops to invade 
the Spanish Colonies. On the 5th November, 1740, transports 
left Brunswick with four companies of troops for Florida, of 

22 HISTORY OF ne;w hanove:r county. 

which James Innes was a captain, and these troops formed a 
part of the regiment commanded by Colonel Gooch, of Vir- 
ginia, in which Washington's brother Lawrence was an officer. 
They constituted a part of the expedition from Jamaica to 
Carthagena, in Central America, under Admiral Vernon, which 
failed of its object. All that we know of the record of the 
Cape Fear men engaged in it is that Innes, Lieutenant Benja- 
min Heron, and Robert Halton were among the officers, and 
that Heron returned by way of England. 

In 1743 South Carolina asked help to resist the Spanish 
invasion from Cuba, and it was granted to the extent of 1,000 
men, on condition that a North Carolina officer should com- 
mand them, and Colonel Maurice Moore was chosen for that 
purpose,"^ November 8, 1748, an attack on the town was made 
by two pirate ships, whose captured property was divided be- 
tween the parishes of St. Philip's at Brunswick and St. James's 
in Wilmington. A full account of this attack is given in the 
State Records-I" and in Ashe's History of North Carolina, ;}: 
from which it appears that in July some of the Spanish ships 
lay in the harbor of the lower river, watched by a company 
of militia who then captured six of the Spaniards ; that they 
returned in heavier force September 4th, and the militia again 
turned out, three of the companies alone containing over 300 
troops, but the Spaniards took possession of Brunswick and 
for four days, from the 6th to the loth, hostilities were active — 
that on the loth one ship was blown up and the other was 
driven off; that Colonel Dry was employed all that day bury- 
ing dead Spaniards, and two days later in bringing the spoils 
from the wreck, and that in addition to the killed and wounded 
29 prisoners were taken. In this year the fort at the present 
town of Southport near the mouth of the Cape Fear, named 
after the Governor (Johnston), was completed, having been 
authorized by an Act of 1745. It was commanded in 1755 
by Captain John Dalrymple, who was appointed by General 
Braddock, the ill-fated commander of the expedition against 
Fort DuQuesne in that year. 

*Col. Rec, IV, 633. t Vo ^XXII, 286. t Vol. I, 270. 


In 1758 it was commanded by Captain James IMoore, and 
from 1766 to 1774 by Captain Robert Howe. 

At the beginning of Johnston's administration, or perhaps 
before, the merchants of Brunswick found their business ham- 
pered by the refusal of raftsmen to carry their tar, timber, naval 
stores, and other freight down to Brunswick because of the 
open and exposed water in front of the town, and these mer- 
chants were compelled to go up the river to a place called the 
Dram Tree, about two miles below the present site of Wil- 
mington, to do their trading for these commodities. This was 
one of the causes of the struggle between Brunswick and 
Wilmington, then called Newton, for supremacy, which cul- 
minated on the 25th February, 1740, when, at a meeting of 
the council, the bill passed in 1736, making Newton a town- 
ship to be called Wilmington, was bitterl}^ assailed by Allen, 
Rice, Moseley and Roger Moore, on the ground that by the 
Act of 1729 Brunswick was made a township, and empowered 
to build a court-house, jair and church, that good houses had 
been built there before Newton was established, and that the 
custom house, if moved from Brunswick, would be too far up 
the river, etc. They were opposed by Halton, Rowan, Mur- 
ray,* and Wm. Smith, the last of whom, after voting as a 
member and making a tie, as presiding officer cast another 
vote to break the tie in favor of Wilmington, which was, per- 
haps, the first tim.e in American history that such an event 
occurred. Governor Johnston, who had the Act of 1736 
(changing the name of Newton to Wilmington) passed in 
honor of his patron, the Earl of Wilmington, was greatl}^ 
pleased, and expressed the hope that all public business would 
be done there. Governor Johnston died in 1752 and was suc- 
ceeded, first by Nathaniel Rice, President of the Council, who 
only lived a short time, and then by Matthew Rowan, Presi- 
dent of the Council. In 1754 Arthur Dobbs was sent over to 
be Governor. He was an old gentleman whose previous his- 

* Murray was made a member of the Council by Governor Johnston suddenly and to ac- 
complish this purpose, as appears from Murray's own statement in a letter to Henry 
McCuUoh, dated 30th January, 1739-40, and this was perhaps the most discreditable act of 
Governor Johnston during his long and otherwise creditable administration. 


tory was honorable, but who was unfitted for the duties of his 
office by reason of his temper and his extravagant notions of 
the kingly prerogative, and of the duty of subjects of the 
Crown to submit loyally to all, royal decrees and Acts of 
Parliament. He remained in authority about ten years, but 
Was in constant disagreement with the Assembly and the 
people, although he attempted a good many reforms, and tried 
to do his duty as he saw it. Of him, as of his predecessors 
and successors, it is not the purpose of this book to give a 
personal history, but only to state such facts as bear upon the 
history of New Hanover County under their several adminis- 

Burrington, the first royal Governor, did not afflict his soul 
with anxiety about the spiritual condition of the colonists, 
but both Johnston and Dobbs did take a deep interest in the 
religious welfare of the people, and endeavored to awaken a 
livelier sense of their obligations in that respect than was 
prevalent among them. Such counsel and action were certainly 
needed, for there was a very general indifference to, if not a 
positive disbelief in the truth of Christianity among them at 
that timic. One of Johnston's first appeals to the Legislature 
was in regard to the lack of religious worship, and also to 
the need of educational facilities in the province, and Dobbs 
was really troubled over it, as appears from his frequent refer- 
ences to the subject, and his anxiety to increase the number 
of ministers, churches and schools. Dobbs resided in Bruns- 
wick, but owned a plantation on Town Creek a few miles dis- 
tant, where there was a large number of other settlers, among 
whom were the following names : Watters, Dalrymple, Rice, 
Lewis, Hill, Assup, Bigford, Jean, Ashe, Grange, Neale, 
Davis, and others. 

The year 1761 was quite an eventful one in the history of 
Brunswick, although not to be compared with what happened 
there a few years later. It was in that year that the fearful 
hurricane* along the coast occurred, which did great damage, 

London Magazine, December, 1761, and Col. Rec, VI, 


throwing down many houses including the roof of the church, 
driving every ship in the river except one ashore, and forcing- 
open New Inlet — which remained for a hundred years and 
until after the War between the States (when it was closed by 
a great engineering feat of the Government) — a chief entrance 
for ships going to and from Wilmington. At this entrance 
stood the celebrated Fort Fisher during that war. 

At the beginning of the year, Friday, February 6, 1761, at 
Brunswick, George III was proclaimed King in the presence 
of the Governor (Dobbs), the Council, and a number of the 
principal planters and people, an account of which, and of the 
repetition of the ceremonies the next day at Wilmington, was 
given by the Governor in a letter to the Board of Trade, dated 
February 9th.* Nothing after this especially connected with 
the history of New Hanover County occurred until 1764, when 
the county of Brunswick was established out of the territory 
of New Hanover and Bladen, except that in October of that 
year, because of the continual complaints against the irritable 
old Governor, the British Ministry sent over Lt.-Col. Wm. 
Tryon of the Queen's Guards to be Lieutenant Governor, and 
he took the oaths of office at Wilmington. 

In the latter part of the following March (1765) Governor 
Dobbs, as Tryon wrote, ''retired from the strife and cares of 
this world," and Tryon succeeded him as Governor, and quali- 
fied on April 3d. It was, for him, an unfortunate time to take 
charge of the government, for miore serious troubles were 
brewing in the Province than at any previous period — the first 
being the Stamp Act upheaval, and the next the Regulators 


It is pleasant to know that the part taken by the Cape Fear 
people in the Stamp Act matter, although for a long period 
preserved only in tradition, has, since the official records were 
obtained, become familiar history, and that the hoary custom 
of doubting or denying every creditable event in North Caro- 

*Co].Rec., VI, 520. 


lina history can no longer be justified, as to these events at 

The facts developed by the indisputable records prove be- 
yond the shadow of a doubt that the only people in America 
v^^ho resisted mith arms the landing of the stamps on their 
soil, and the first who defied British power with guns in their 
hands more than ten years before the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, were the people of the lower Cape Fear. 

It is not my purpose to give an elaborate account of those 
proceedings, but rather to briefly epitomize the events in the 
exact order in which they occurred, as follows : 

The Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament in 
March, 1765, Tryon succeeded Dobbs on the 3d of April, and 
the first Assembly after his succession met the 3d of May. Im- 
mediately after its meeting, the news of the passage of the act 
arrived. This event had been anticipated, and Tryon, know- 
ing the popular sentiment and desiring to find out what would 
be the probable action of the Assembly, in an interview with 
the speaker (Col. John Ashe) asked him the question, to which 
Ashe replied that the act would be resisted with arms — or as 
tradition has preserved his reply, "to blood and death." There- 
upon Tryon on the i8th May prorogued the Assembly to meet 
at New Bern, November 30th. Then the pot began to boil, 
meetings were called and resolutions denouncing the act and 
expressing a determination to resist it were adopted, and these 
meetings occurred at intervals during the summer and early 
fall. Dr. Wm. Houston* was appointed to the position of 
Stamp Master by the Governor and Council. On the 25th 
October Tryon again prorogued the Assembly until the fol- 
lowing March 12th, and this aggravated the situation because 
it prevented the election of delegates by the Assembly to the 
Stamp Act Congress, as it has always been called. On the 
1 6th November the people went to Tryon's house in Wilming- 
ton and demanded Dr. Houston, the Stamp Master, and upon 

*Oneof Dr. Houston's descendants, Capt. William Houston, a talented young lawyer 
was a captain of the 1st North Carolina Cavalry, C. S. A., killed in battle. 

11 .^m*mm^.. 

1 W^Mt-^ "'"'^ 

wmm 'T 

^^■h^i:^-' '"•'-•' ^ ■- - ■■ "^ 

""v';'^ :iL,.iiiii,,,iL' 1 

Cornelius Harnett Monument 
Fourtti and Market Streets, Wilmington, N. C. 


Tryon's refusal to surrender him, they prepared to burn his 
house. Tryon then requested Colonel Ashe to come in and 
talk with Houston, which he did, and Houston, realizing his 
danger, agreed to accompany Ashe to the street, and, escorted 
by a large crowd, they went to the court-house and there, in 
the presence of the mayor (Moses John DeRosset) and the 
public officers, took and subscribed an oath that he would never 
apply for, or receive any stamp-paper or exercise the duties 
of his office. Thereupon the crowd gave three cheers and 

On the 1 8th November, two days after this affair, about 
fifty of the merchants of New Hanover and Brunswick 
counties, upon invitation from Governor Tryon, dined wath 
him, and he strenuously urged them to permit the circulation 
of the stamps, but received very cold comfort. 

On the 20th Tryon opened and proclaimed his commission 
at Wilmington and consulted the Council if any measures could 
be proposed to induce the people to receive the stamps. "They 
were unanimously of the opinion that nothing further could 
be done than what I have already offered," he wrote to the 
Secretary of State in England."^ Meantime the arrival of the 
stamps was daily expected at Brunswick, and preparation for 
their proper reception was made. Tryon was uneasy and 
anxious to conciliate the people whose good will he desired to 
cultivate, whose condition he knew to be depressed, and whose 
spirit he was obliged to respect. In the dispatch just referred 
to he informed the government that, although the courts had 
been regularly opened, no business was done, and all civil 
government was at a stand — that there was little or no specie 
in circulation, and that the Attorney-General had assured him 
that the stamp duties on the instruments used in the five Su- 
perior Courts alone would in one year require all the specie 
in the country, and that to these were to be added the instru- 
ments used in the twenty-nine inferior or County Courts, those 
in the hands of the sheriffs and other civil officers, in the Land 

Tryon to Conwaj% December 26. 

28 HISTORY o^ ne:w hanovi^r county. 

Office, and many others used in the transaction of pubHc busi- 
ness ; and he declared his belief that the operation of the Stamp 
Act was for these reasons impracticable, and therefore he had 
made proposals for the ease and convenience of the people 
and tried to reconcile them to the act. There can be no doubt 
that Tryon regarded the act as outrageously oppressive on the 
people of the colonies, and would gladly have escaped any con- 
nection with it. 

On the 28th November the sloop of war Diligence arrived 
at Brunswick with the stamps, and was greeted by an assem- 
blage of citizens with guns in their hands. The stamps were 
not landed. Tryon afterwards wrote that the reason for not 
landing them was that after Houston resigned there was no 
distributor or other offiicer of the stamps in the country and 
they remained on board, but the true reason was that the 
gentlemen carrying the guns had ''submitted a few broken re- 
marks" concerning the state of heath of any one who should 
undertake to fetch that part of the cargo ashore. 

The Diligence, either upon her arrival or not long after- 
wards, was accompanied by the Viper sloop of war, and both 
lay at anchor ofif Brunswick awaiting developments. 

Nothing occurred, except the continued organization of the 
people in the surrounding country, until the 14th January, 
1766, when two merchant vessels, the Dobbs and the Patience, 
arrived, when it was discovered that their clearance papers 
were not stamped, whereupon the captain of the Viper imme- 
diately seized both vessels, regardless of the assurance of their 
captains that it was impossible for them to comply with the 
law, for the reason that when they left Philadelphia and St. 
Christophers, from which ports respectively they had come, 
no stamps could be obtained.* 

* Since this was written I have had the pleasure of inspecting the long lost and recently- 
found Entry Book of the Port of Brunswick from 1765 to 1774, a very large and much 
mutilated and stained volume, now owned by Mr. James Sprunt, which contains the en- 
tries of the Dobbs and Patience at the custom house at that time , and several times after- 
ward. They are both entered as "Plantation" built. The Dobbs was built in 1703,40 
tons and 4 men, owned by Richard Quince, Eleazer Callender, Master. The Patience, 
built in 1762, 20 tons and 4 men, owned by William Hawkins, Will Ward, Master. Both 
were sloops. The sloop Ruby, afterwards seized and released, was also "Plantation" 
built in 1762, 55 tons and 5 men, owned by Thos. Homer & Co., Thomas Homer, Master, 
trading to Philadelphia. We also note the "Plantation" built (1764) sloop Charming 
Peggy, 50 tons and 5 men, owned by Cornelius Harnett, John Cray, Master, and others 
owned by Cape Fear men. 


And now the situation became serious indeed. The news 
of the seizure spread Hke wildfire and soon five hundred and 
eighty men v/ith arms, and one hundred without, assembled 
and chose Col. Hugh Waddell as their commander. On the 
i6th of February Col. Wm. Dry, Collector of the port of 
Brunswick, received a letter from Wilmington dated the 15th, 
demanding his presence there, which he answered promising 
to be there the next day, but the weather prevented him from 

*'The next intelligence I received," says Tryon,^ "was in 
the dusk of the evening of the 19th, soon after 6 o'clock, by 
letter delivered me by Mr. George Moore, and Mr. Cornelius 
Harnett, bearing date the 19th, and signed "John Ashe, Thomas 
Lloyd, Alexander Lillington." 

This letter stirred Tryon to an interview with the captains 
of the men of war, because it notified him that the people 
were going to march to Brunswick "in hopes of obtaining in a 
peaceful manner a redress of their grievances from the com- 
manding officer of his Majest5'''s ships," and at the same time 
assured the Governor of protection from insult to his person 
and property, and that if agreeable to him, a guard of gentle- 
men should be immediately detached for that purpose. 

Tryon, who was a fearless soldier, told ]\Iessrs. Moore and 
Harnett that he wanted no guard, and that the gentlemen need 
not come to give protection where it was not necessary or 
required, and that he would answer them in writing next 

As soon as Moore and Harnett left, the house was sur- 
rounded by about one hundred and fifty armed men, who in- 
formed Tryon that they were looking for Captain Lobb, of the 
Viper, and on discovering that he was not there the majority 
of them went toward the town (Tryon's residence being a short 
distance from it), leaving a number of men to watch the ave- 
nues to it. 

Armed men, as Tryon wrote, were continualy coming into 

Tryon to Conway, February 25. 


Brunswick from different counties, for the whole Cape Fear 
region was roused. 

On the 20th Pennington, the Comptroller, went to Tryon 
and told him there had been a search for him also, and Tryon 
invited him to remain with him, which he did. 

The next morning, the 21st, Col. James Moore went for 
Pennington, and, being informed by Tryon that he ''could not 
part with him," Colonel Moore went away, "and in five minutes 
afterwards," says Tryon, ''I found the avenue to my house 
again shut up by different parties of armed men." 

About 10 o'clock he observed a body of men in arms, esti- 
mated by him to be from 400 to 500, moving toward his house, 
the main body of which drew up in front about 300 yards dis- 
tant, and a detachment of m.en advanced down the avenue 
headed by Harnett, who sent a message that he wished to speak 
to Pennington, and upon Tryon's statemicnt that Pennington 
had sought refuge in his house and he would give him all the 
protection he could, Harnett told him the people were de- 
termined to take him out, although they did not intend to 
harm him. Thereupon Pennington concluded to go with him, 
but resigned his office to Tryon first. They and the armed 
citizens then went back to town where Pennington was re- 
quired to take an oath similar to the one administered to Hous- 
ton in Wilmington. 

On the evening of the 19th (when George Moore and Har- 
nett went to deliver the note from Ashe, Lloyd and Lillington) 
Lieutenant Calder, of the Viper, informed the commander of 
that ship ''that a party of men, consisting of three or four 
hundred under the command of Colonel Waddell were on their 
march to Fort Johnston, in order to take possession of it," 
and thereupon Calder was sent in a boat with orders to spike 
the guns of the fort, which he did, having reached it before 
Waddell's column arrived. 

In the meantime the people of Wilmington seized the boat 
of the contractor for supplies to the men of war at Brunswick, 
and put its crew in jail. The men of war had only one day's 


supply of provisions on hand, and the only source of supply 
being thus cut off, Tryon had to yield, and the vessels, which 
had been seized fqr the want of stamps on their clearances, 
were released. 

And so ended this gallant episode in the early history of the 
lower Cape Fear. 

We are not willing, however, to close this episode without 
reciting a ludicrous incident that has been embalmed in the 
history of that exciting period and may be found in the Colonial 

The present age is supposed to be par excellence the era of 
what is called, in the slang of the day, ''gall," but this was an 
instance of an almost sublime exhibition of it, and is given in 
a letter from the Rev. John Barnett, minister of St. Philip's 
church at Brunswick, to a Mr. Waring in London, dated at 
"Castle Tryon near Brunswick" (Tryon's residence, Russell- 
boro), February i, 1766, about the time Tryon was in the midst 
of the Stamp Act troubles. 

Mr. Barnett was very much exercised over the performances 
of an individual whom he characterized as "one Stevens, a 
Scotch Presbyterian teacher" who, he said, was going in the 
vessel that carried his letter to apply to the Bishop of London 
for orders as a clergyman; that he had "illused the Governor, 
affronted all the King's Council (but one Scotch gentleman;, 
most villainously abused me," and was going to apply for 
orders without any recommendation to the Bishop; that he 
"has several times preached here in a lawyer's old gown, given 
him at Wilmington," and "has baptized several children in the 
character of a clergyman of the Church of England, which, 
before I came, he had the impudence to assume," and that 
he had told him (Barnett) that he would make a genteel 
present to the Bishop and get an order to supersede him (Bar- 
nett) as Missionary, and had told some of the Council that 
"any one might get orders on making a Bishop a present of 
the price of a good beaver hat, which he intended doing"; 

'VI, 161. 

32 HISTORY OF ne;w hanove:r county. 

that he "came to Brunswick a distressed stranger and the 
Governor had taken pity on him and given him 50 guineas, 
but had found him out and had forbidden ^him his presence." 

Poor Tryon was certainly having a rough experience about 
that time, and brother Barnett was evidently sorely grieved 
in spirit at such a manifestation of wickedness and irreverence 
for church dignitaries — irrespective, of course, of any personal 
anxiety in regard to his own tenure of office. 

The repeal of the Stamp Act and the generous proclamation 
of Governor Tryon announcing the fact and warning the public 
officers to refrain from further extortions upon the people, 
were acceptable to the conservative element who still cherished 
the hope of a satisfactory adjustment of affairs, but there was 
a feeling of unrest and distrust prevalent, and the enforcement 
of the Navigation Act, which forbade the carriage of anything 
to European ports north of Cape Finisterre, except the one 
article of rice, they felt was a discrimination against them like 
that against Ireland, and they naturally resented it. Soon after 
this the Regulators movement in the middle of the State be- 
gan, and although the people of the Cape Fear regarded Gov- 
ernor Tryon as disposed to be tyrannical, they regarded the 
Regulators as the organizers of a mobocracy, and sustained the 
Governor as the representative of orderly government by con- 
tributing troops to aid him in his effort to suppress them. The 
history of the Regulators war is familiar to all, and therefore 
we give no further space to it, except to say that New Han- 
over County contributed a company of artillery under Col. 
James Moore and John B. Ashe. They had proved their de- 
votion to liberty by their armed resistance to the Stamp Act, 
but with an intelligent appreciation of the difference between 
asserting their rights as British subjects, and countenancing 
lawlessness and anarchy, while reluctant to antagonize with 
arms their countrymen, they felt that it was their duty to stand 
for law and order and sustain even a government which was 
not acceptable to themselves against mob violence, and the 
domination of ignorant and fanatical demagogues. 


(The new town of Wilmington, from its establishment in 
1736, had outgrown Brunswick, and at the time of the Stamp 
Act troubles contained more than twice as many inhabitants, 
and when the Revolution began had more than three times as 
many. Mt accordingly became the chief center of events after 
that time, while Brunswick continued to decline and soon 
ceased to exist as a town, although a good many of its former 
inhabitants continued to use the old church yard of St. Philip's 
for the burial of their dead. Most of the dead, however, were 
buried on the plantations, as required by the Act of 1741, 
which made it the duty of every planter to set apart a burying 
ground for dead Christians, free and bond. 

Thus ended the history of the second settlement on the 
Cape Fear, which began with every promise of becoming both 
the permanent seat of government and the leading commercial 
mart of the Province of North Carolina. For nearly a hun- 
dred years after its abandonment, it remained a decayed and 
melancholy relic, hidden among the moss-draped pines and 
undergrowth that crowned the bluff on which it was built, and 
by which swept silently the wide, historic river, until the be- 
ginning of the War between the States in 1861, when a great 
earthwork fortification. Fort Anderson, was erected on the 
site, enclosing with one of its arms the walls of the old church, 
which, again as of old, was bombarded by a hostile fleet, and 
again, as if under divine protection, escaped destruction or 
serious injury, and still stands old and gray in a new-grown 
forest, and amid crumbling tombs. 


During the excitement over the Stamp Act in the fall of 
1765 and before the arrival of the Diligence with the stamps, 
the people of the Cape Fear in common w^th the people every 
where throughout the country began to organize themselves 
under the name ''Sons of Liberty," and that organization con- 
tinued under that title until after the year 1770, but how^ long 
after that date we do not know, although it is probable that 


after the formation of Safety Committees in 1774, the name 
ceased to be used. 

At a meeting held June 2, 1770, a general committee was 
appointed, as appears from the following extract from the 
SoiitJi Carolina Gazette of July 5th: 

''We hear that in consequence of a letter addressed to the 
Sons of Liberty in North Carolina, under cover to Col. James 
Moore, a meeting has been appointed, and held on the 2d of 
last month, where a number of gentlemen from the several 
southern counties in that Province wxre chosen as a commit- 
tee to meet at Wilmington on this day, to consult upon such 
measures as may appear most eligible, for evincing their Pa- 
triotism and Loyalty in the Present critical situation of affairs ; 
which committee are, Col. Thomas Lloyd, Cornelius Harnett, 
Frederick Gregg, William Campbell, Esq., INIessrs. John Rob- 
inson and William Wilkinson, for the town of Wilmington — 
George Aloore, Frederick Jones, Esqs., Col. James Moore, 
Messrs. Samuel Ashe and James Naran [Moran] for New 
Hanover County — Richard Quince, Sen., and Richard Quince, 
Jun., Esqrs., and Mr. Wilkinson, for the town of Brunswick — 
John and William Davis, Esqrs., T'Jessrs. Samuel Watters, 
Thomas Davis, and Samuel Neal, for Brunswick County — 
Messrs. John and George Gibbs, and John Grange, Jun., for 
Bladen County — Col. James Sampson, and Felix Keenan 
[Kenan], Esq., for Duplin County — William Gray, Henry 
Roads [Rhodes], and Richard Ward, Esqrs., for Onslow 
County — and Walter Gibson, Farquhar Campbell, and Robert 
Rowan, Esqrs., for Cumberland County." 

And again, on the 5th of July, according to a publication in 
the same paper of August 9th, there was a meeting of which 
the following account is given : 

"At a meeting of the General Committee of the Sons of Lib- 
erty upon Cape Fear, in Wilmington the 5th of July, Cornelius 
Harnett, Esq., was chosen Chairman, and the following Reso- 
lutions unanimously agreed on, viz : 

''I. Resolved, That the following answer to the letter re- 


ceived from the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina, of the 25th 
of April last, be signed by the Chairman and sent by the first 
conveyance : 

To the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina. 

Gentlemen: — Your favor of the 25th of April last was laid before the 
Sons of Liberty upon Cape Fear, at a general meeting in this town, on 
the second of last month, and received with the highest satisfaction. 

We have the pleasure to inform you, that many of the principal in- 
habitants of six large and populous counties attended when it was 
unanimously agreed, to keep strictly to the non-importation agreement 
entered into last fall, and to cooperate with our sister colonies, in every 
legal measure for obtaining ample redress of the grievance so justly com- 
plained of. 

Happy should we have thought ourselves, if our merchants in gen- 
eral, would have followed the disinterested and patriotic example of their 
brethren in the other colonies. We hope, however, their own interest will 
convince them of the necessity of importing such articles, and such only, 
as the planters will purchase. 

We should have done ourselves the pleasure of answering your letter 
much sooner, but the gentlemen of the committee living at such a dis- 
tance from each other prevented it. 

We beg leave to assure you, that the inhabitants of those six counties, 
and we doubt not of every county in this colony, are convinced of the 
necessity of adhering strictly to their former resolutions, and you may 
depend they are as tenacious of their just rights as any of their brethren 
on the continent and firmly resolved to stand or fall with them in sup- 
port of the common cause of American liberty. 

Worthless men, as you very justly observe, are the production of every 
viountry, and we are also unhappy as to have a few among us "who have 
not virtue enough to resist the alurement of present gain." Yet we 
can venture to assert, that the people in general of this colony, will be 
spirited and steady in support of their rights as English subjects, and 
will not tamely submit to the yoke of oppression — "But, if by the iron 
hand of power," they are at last crushed, it is, however, their fixed reso- 
lution, either to fall with the same dignity and spirit you so justly men- 
tion, or transmit to their posterity entire, the inestimable blessings of 
our free Constitution. 

The disinterested and public spirited behavior of the merchants and 
other inhabitants of your colony, justly merits the applause of every 
lover of liberty on the continent. The people of any colony who have not 
virtue enough to follow so glorious examples must be lost to every sense 


of freedom and consequently deserve to be slaves. We are, with great 
truth, gentlemen. 

Your affectionate countrymen, 

Cornelius Harnett, Chairman. 

Signed by order of the General Committee, Wilmington, Cape Fear, 
July 5th, 1770. 

"11. Resolved, That we will strictly and inviolably adhere to 
the non-importation agreement entered into on the 30th day of 
September last, until the grievances therein mentioned are re- 

"III. Resolved, That we will not, on any pretense vvdiatever, 
have any dealings or connection with the inhabitants of the 
colony of Rhode Island, who contrary to their solemn and 
voluntary contract, have violated their faith pledged to the 
other colonies, and thereby shamefully deserted the common 
cause of American liberty, and if any of their vessels or mer- 
chants shall arrive in Cape Fear River, with intention to trade, 
we will to the utmost of our power by all legal ways and means 
prevent any person buying from, or selling to them, any goods 
or commodities whatever, unless they give full satisfaction to 
the colonies for their base and unworthy conduct. 

''IV. Resolved, That the merchants of Newport, Rhode- 
Island, and all others on the continent of North America, who 
will not comply with the non-importation agreement are de- 
clared enemies to their country, and ought to be treated in the 
most contemptuous manner. 

"V. Resolved, That we will not purchase any kind of goods 
or merchandise, whatever, from any merchant or other person 
who shall import or purchase goods for sale contrary to the 
spirit and intention of the said agreement, unless such goods 
be immediately re-shipped to the place they were imported 
from, or stored under the inspection and direction of the 

"VI. Resolved, That the members of the committee for the 
several counties in the Wilmington District, and particularly 
those for the towns of Wilmington and Brunswick, do care- 

HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 37 

fully inspect all importations of goods, and if any shall be im- 
ported contrary to the true intent and meaning of the said non- 
importation agreement, that they give public notice thereof in 
the Cape Pear Mercury, with the names of such importers or 

"VII. Resolved, That copies of these resolutions be imme- 
diately transitted to all the trading towns in this colony." 

The Committee of the Sons of Liberty upon Cape Fear, ap- 
pointed for the town of Wilmington to inspect into all goods 
imported, take this opportunity to inform the public, that Mr. 
Arthur Benning of Duplin County hath imported in the sloop 
Lancashire Witch from Virginia, a small assortment of goods, 
several articles of which are not allowed by the non-importa- 
tion agreement. But it appears at the same time to the Com- 
mittee, those goods were expected to arrive before the first 
day of January last, having been ordered by Mr. Benning some 
time in ]\\\y last, his correspondent sent them to A'irginia, 
where they have lain a considerable time since. 

"We have the pleasure to inform the public, that Richard 
Quince, Esq., a member of the general committee, and who 
may with great propriety be deemed a principal merchant, 
hath joined heartily in the non-importation agreement. It will, 
no doubt, be looked upon as a very great misfortune to this 
country, that some merchants and others seem resolved not to 
follow so disinterested an example, but on the contrary, are 
daily purchasing wines and many other articles contrary to the 
said agreement. Should those gentlemen still persist in a prac- 
tice so destructive in its tendency to the liberties of the people 
of this colony, they must not be surprised, if hereafter the 
names of the importers and purchasers should be published in 
Cape Fear Mercury. This is intended to serve as a friendly 
admonition. And, it is hoped will be received as such, and 
have its due effect." 


The: Name;s of the Eari^iest Plantations, Their Location 

AND Tpieir Owners, with Items oe 

Biography and Incidents. 

As already stated, settlements were made on the Cape Fear 
River, and in its vicinity as early as 1723. A grant for 48,000 
acres was made to Landgrave Thomas Smith* as early as 
1 71 3, but no attempt to settle on that grant (which included 
Bald Head at the mouth of the river and extended above Wil- 
mington) was made for some years. These settlements were 
chiefly on the west side of the river below Wilmington, and 
in the locality known then and ever since as Rocky Point on 
the northeast branch above Wilmington, but some were on the 
sound and on the upper Northwest river. There were a few 
grants for land as far south and west of the river as Lock- 
wood's Folly, but these were isolated places to which no historic 
interest attaches. 

We will begin our account of these oldest plantations and 
their owners by first taking those farthest down the river and 
proceeding up it as high as Wilmington, and then take those 
above on both branches in the same order, and finally those on 
the sound. 

And, as preliminary to the subject, it will be ''news" to the 
present generation of Cape Fear people to learn that in the 
early days fine crops of wheat were raised in the Rocky Point 
neighborhood on the northeast branch of the river. In those 
days rice, indigo, corn, and tobacco were the principal crops, 
but there is contemporary evidence of the culture of wheat also 
in the region referred to, and probably in many other places. 
In a letter written by a lady from her residence near Castle 
Haynes to Mr. John Burgwin in London, in the year 1775 
(August 25th), is this language: "We have prodigious crops 
of wheat this year — ^better never known in the memory of men. 
The corn will also be very fine if these deluges of rain do not 
spoil it." 

* A recital in a deed ( N. H. Records, C. 77 ) says tliis grant is in the Secretary's office of 
South Carohna. 


In Speaking of the British troops grinding grain at Ruther- 
ford's mills, above Rocky Point in 1781, McRee* says: "With 
the exception of a small experiment by Dr. J. F. McRee on 
Rocky Point, v^heat has not been cultivated in that region since 
the Revolution." The reason, or one of the reasons, probably 
v^as that after that time it v^as found to be cheaper to buy 
flour brought from the back country to Fayetteville, and thence 
by boat to Wilmington, than to raise the v^^heat and send it 
miles away to be ground on toll at the fev^ mills that v^ere 
equipped v^ith proper stones for grinding that grain. It cer- 
tainly w^as not because the land v^as not capable of producing 
fine v^heat crops. 

governor's point. 

The southernmost estate on the river v^as called Governor's 
Point because Governor Burrington bought it from the first 
grantee, John Porter. John Porter came from the Albemarle 
region, v^here he had been for many years a leader of the 
people. He moved to the Cape Fear country in 1723 and died 
at Rocky Point in 1734. Members of his family intermarried 
with the Moores, Ashes, Lillingtons, and Moseleys. 

In a lecture delivered before the Historical and Scientific 
Society of Wilmington, on the 26th of November, 1879, en- 
titled ''A Study in Colonial History," the Hon. George Davis 
overwhelmingly vindicated the memory of Porter from the 
grossly unjust attacks upon it by Dr. Hawks and other writers 
of our colonial history. Under his claim, clear and masterful 
analysis of the facts concerning the Gary rebelion and the 
characters connected with it — an analysis illuminated by flashes 
of satire and genial humor — the true character and valuable 
services of John Porter were portrayed, and his claim to the 
admiration and respect of posterity was triumphantly estab- 
lished. Like too many others who have lived in troublous 
times, and have taken an active part in public affairs. Porter 
was the victim of party rancor and the personal hostility of 
those in authority who used their power to defame him and 
destroy his influence and reputation, but it was almost worth 

*Life and Correspondence of James Iredell, Vol. I, 526, note. 


undergoing the wrong and injustice to have received after 
many 3-ears such a splendid vindication as the lecturer pro- 

Howe's point. 

Job Howe, father of Gen. Robert Howe of Revolutionary 
fame, was the son of a prominent man of the same name in 
South Carolina, and was the grandson of Governor James 
Moore (the first) of that State. His residence at Howe's 
Point, the next place above Governor's Point, was in rear of 
an old colonial fort, built, according to tradition, for defense 
against pirates, who infested the harbor and river, and the ruins 
of both his residence and the fort were visible until a com- 
paratively recent period. 

In his interesting little book, entitled ''Tales and Traditions 
of the Lower Cape Fear," Mr. James Sprunt says : "Mr. Rey- 
nolds, the present intelligent owner and occupant of the Howe 
place behind the colonial fort, who took part in building Fort 
Anderson, says that his father and his grandfather informed 
him forty years ago that this fort was erected long before the 
War of the Revolution as a protection against buccaneers and 
pirates; that his great-grandfather lived with General Howe 
on this place during the war (Revolution) and took part in a 
defense of this fort against the British who drove the Ameri- 
cans out of it; that the latter retreated to Libery Pond, about 
a half mile in the rear, pursued by the British ; that a stand was 
made at this pond, the Americans on the west and the enemy 
on the east side, and that the blood which flowed stained the 
margin of the beautiful sheet of water which still bears the 
name of Liberty Pond, and that the Americans again retreated 
as far as McKenzie's mill dam behind Kendall, where the 
British abandoned the pursuit and returned to their ships of 

And Mr. Sprunt adds : ''Since the foregoing was written 
Mr. Reynolds's statement with reference to General Howe's 
residence has been fully corroborated by the well-known Cape 
Fear skipper. Captain Sam Price, now eighty-six years old. 


He remembers distinctly and has often visited the house known 
as General Howe's residence, which he says was a large three- 
story frame building, on a stone or brick foundation, on the 
spot already described just below Old Brunswick, and still 
known as Howe's Point." General Howe was one of the really 
brilliant officers of the Revolution, having been promoted to 
the rank of Major General in October, 1777, although his ad- 
vancement had been most ungenerously obstructed by persons 
in South Carolina and Georgia. He was a man of much more 
than usual culture and ability, and who, by his intelligent ac- 
tivity in supporting the rights of the people against the un- 
constitutional aggression of King and Parliament before the 
Revolution broke out, had become so obnoxious to the Govern- 
ment that when pardon was offered to all who would abandon 
the American cause during the v/ar, he and Harnett, who was 
his close friend and coadjutor, were specifically excepted from 
clemency, and his plantation was plundered by a British ex- 
pedition. It would require a volume to adequately present his 
most valuable services to his country from early manhood to 
the day of his death, which occurred in December, 1786, at 
the residence of his friend and brother hero, Gen. Thomas 
Clark, at Point Repose, while on his way to attend the session 
of the Legislature, of which he was a member, then assembled 
at Fayetteville. We shall have occasion to refer again to this 
brave and gifted soldier and patriot, and therefore postpone 
further comment now. 


The place next above Howe's Point, and just below the town 
of Old Brunswick, belonged to Nathaniel Moore,"^ a brother 
of Col. Maurice Moore and "King" Roger Moore, but he owned 
several other plantations up the river and does not seem to 
have lived at York. There is, or recently was, a steam.boat 
landing and post-office about forty miles farther up the river 
that has for more than a hundred years borne the name of "Nat 
Moore," but generally spelled Natmore. 

* Nathaniel Moore married Sarah Grange April 13, 1720, in South Carolina, as vre learn 
from the Annals and Register of St. Thomas's and St. Denis's Parish, S. C, and after her 
death married a Miss Webb. 



Immediately north of the town of Brunswick was the his- 
toric place called Russellboro, a residence with 55 acres of 
land attached, which was bought from Roger Moore's estate 
by Captain Russell of the British navy,* and afterwards was 
sold to Governor Dobbs, whose son, Captain Edward Brice 
Dobbs, sold it to Governor Tryon in 1767.'!' It was at this 
residence that the Stamp Act patriots interviewed Tryon to his 
great indignation and humiliation. As in nearly every other 
instance of the places, there is nothing left of Russellboro but 
a few broken bricks. ;}: It was a part of the Orton estate. 


The first plantation above Brunswick, which from its first 
settlement to this day has been one of the largest and most 
beautiful estates on the Cape Fear River, is Orton. It was 
settled by ''King" Roger Moore in 1725, and remained in his 
family for three generations, and then was bought by Richard 
Quince, a wealthy merchant, in whose family it remained for 
about thirty years, when Gen. (afterwards Governor) Benja- 
min Smith owned it. It was the southernmost rice plantation 
on the river. 


Adjoining Orton on the north is Kendall, where Governor 
Smith's brother James lived. He was the father of R. Barn- 
well Smith, who, with his brother, took the name of Rhett 
and moved to South Carolina. Kendall was first granted to 
Col. Maurice Moore in 1725, conveyed by him to his brother 
Roger Moore in 1726, and sold by the latter's son George to 
John Davis, Jr., in I765.§ It was later owned by the McRee 

* Captain Russell owned the land on which the town of Campbellton (adjoining Cross 
Creek, now Fayetteville) was built, which land descended to his sons John and William, 
who are named as the owners in the Act of 1762 establishing the town, and who were pen- 
sioned by the British government, and were Tories in the Revolution. Their father died 
prior to 1762, and Andrew J. Howell, Esq., of Wilmington, tells me he is one of his descend- 
ants. Captain Russell commanded the sloop of war Scorpion. 

tBookB, 309, N. H. 

JThe North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames have erected, with the foundation 
stones of the building, a memorial structure, and have placed on it a large marble tablet 
reciting the history of the place. 

§ Book E, 242. 


family. The first of this family in North Carolina was Samuel 
McRee, who settled in Bladen County about the year 1740, 
having come from Ireland. His son, Griffith John McRee, born 
in Bladen February i, 1758, was an enthusiastic patriot at the 
beginning of the Revolution, and was commissioned on the 
1 6th of April, 1776, captain in the 6th Regiment, Continental 
Line of North Carolina. He was at the battle of Fort Moul- 
trie, and afterwards at the battles of Brandywine, Germantown, 
and Monmouth. Being transferred in March, 1779, to the ist 
Regiment, Continental Line, he marched in the next fall to 
South Carolina, and was at the long siege of Charleston, 
where he was made prisoner. After his exchange he joined 
Greene's army and fought at Guilford Court House, Hob- 
kirk's Hill, and Eutaw Springs. In the last named fight 
his conduct secured his promotion to the rank of Ala j or and 
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel. After the Revolution, in 1785, 
he married Miss Fergus, of Wilmington, and lived at Lilliput, 
next adjoining to Kendall. General Washington appointed 
him Captain of Engineers and Artillery in 1794, and while in 
command at Fort Johnston he was appointed, in 1798, collector 
of the port of Wilmington. He was a member of the Society 
of the Cincinnati and was distinguished for his exceptional 
Christian character. Only five of his children reached ma- 
turity, but of these, three were men of marked ability, viz : CoL 
Wm. McRee, who graduated at West Point in 1805 with the 
first honors, distinguished himself in the War of 181 2, was 
made Chief of Engineers U. S. Army in 1814, Lieutenant 
Colonel of Engineers in 1818, resigned 1819, and died in 1833. 
Also Col. Sam McRee, who graduated at West Point, reached 
the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Alexican War as General 
Taylor's Chief Quartermaster, and died in 1849; ^^'^^ ^^- James 
Fergus McRee, perhaps the most learned, scholarly and accom- 
plished physician and scientist ever reared on the Cape Fear. 
He was distinguished for his attainments in natural science as 
well as in the different branches of his profession and in gen- 
eral literature, and was a correspondent of the Royal Society 


and a friend of the celebrated Lyell, who with his wife once 
visited Dr. McRee at his Rocky Point plantation. He was an 
vipright gentleman and devoted Christian, who, after a life of 
nearly seventy-five years crowned with honors, died in 1869 
at his home in Wilmington. He had two sons who sustained 
the intellectual reputation of the family, viz: Dr. James F. 
McRee, Jr., a prominent physician and surgeon in the Con- 
federate army, and Griffith J. McRee, author of the "Life and 
Correspondence of James Iredell," Justice of the Supreme 
Court of the United States. 

1.11.1,1 PUT. 
The plantation next north of Kendall was Lilliput, which was 
granted in 1725 to Eleazer Allen, an educated gentleman and 
native of Massachusetts, who had previously been a member 
of the Assembly in South Carolina, and a member of the Coun- 
cil there, and who came with the early settlers from there in 
1734. He lived at Lilliput until his death in 1749, and, with 
his wife,"^ is buried on that place under two of the best pre- 
served tombstones on the Cape Fear. The stone over his re- 
mains is inscribed ''Chief Justice of North Carolina." He had 
also been a member of Council, Receiver-General, Judge of 
Oyer and Terminer, and Treasurer of New Hanover precinct. 
Lilliput was afterwards owned by the McRee family, as above 


Next above Lilliput was the plantation called Pleasant Oaks, 
granted to the widow of John Moore, (another brother of 
Maurice and Roger) in 1728, and from whom it is believed 
that the "Widow Moore's Creek," w^here the first victory of the 
Revolution (February 27, 1776) was won, took its name.-j- 


This list of the plantations brings us up to the mouth of Old 
Town Creek, on the v/estern bank of the river, about eight 

* A lady of culture, who had traveled in Europe, a daughter of Col. William Rhett, of 
South Carolina. 

t She was, before marriage, Justina Smith, daughter of Landgrave Thomas Smith the 
second, and died in Philadelphia after a brief illness while on a visit to relatives in 1742. 
Her will is recorded in Philadelphia. 


miles below Wilmington, where the colony of Sir John Yea- 
mans settled the first Charlestown in this country, in 1664-65. 

rice's peantation. 

Now, leaving the river and following up Old Town Creek, 
one of the plantations on the south side, was that of Nathaniel 
Rice, the remains of the fine residence there having been visible 
as late as the early youth of the late Hon. Geo. Davis, who said 
he had seen them."^ Nathaniel Rice was the son-in-law of 
Col. ]\Iartin Bladen, one of the Lords of Trade and Plantations, 
and was a prominent man in the Province, having been first 
the Secretary of the Province and later a miember of the Coun- 
cil and acting Governor for a short period, just before Matthew 
Rowan, the next senior member of the Council, who succeeded 
him until the arrival of Governor Dobbs in 1754. 

The order in which the plantations up Old Town Creek came 
is not known, and we can only give the names of a few of 

SPRING garden. 

In a deed from ^laurice IMoore to John Baptista Ashe, dated 
December 5, 1727, in which Moore is described as "of Bath 
County," he conveys 640 acres on the north side of Old Town 
Creek, "about five miles above ye Old Town, commionly known 
by the name of Spring Garden," granted to said Moore, June 
20, 1725. The name of this place was afterwards changed by 
some of Mr. Ashe's successors to Grovely, by which nam.e it 
has been known for more than a hundred years past. It was 
given, by the will of Ann R. Quince, to her cousin, A. D. 
Moore, son of Maj. A. D. Moore, and for sixty years or more 
last past has belonged to the estate of the late Dr. John D. 


Another plantation, on Old Town Creek, containing 2,500 
acres, was owned by Chief Justice Hasell and was conveyed to 
James Murray, Trustee, in a marriage settlement between 

An Episode in Cape Fear History," in South Atlantic Magazine, Januarj', 1879. 

46 HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 

Hasell's son, James Hasell, Jr., and Sarah Wright, February 
20, 1750,^' and this place was called Belgrange. 


Next to Belgrange was Hullfields, owned by Schencking 
Moore, son of Nathaniel Moore, and sold by him to John 


Another place at the head of Old Town Creek, containing 
750 acres, was sold by Eleazer Allen to John Davis, June 9, 


dalyrmple: place:. 

Another place "on the north side of Old Town Creek, ad- 
joining the land of the late John Baptista Ashe at Spring 
Garden," containing 550 acres, was sold by the executors of 
Joseph Watters to ''John Dalrymple, Gent.,f September 12, 


Governor Dobbs owned a plantation on Old Town Creek, 
where he is supposed to have been buried, but its name and 
locality are unknown, and the same may be said of most of 
the plantations located there, of which there were a dozen or 

The best known of these proprietors, except Dobbs, was 
John Baptista Ashe, who was the father of Col. John Ashe of 
Stamp Act fame, and of Governor Samuel Ashe. He went 
from South Carolina to the Albemarle country, where in 1719 
he married the daughter of Samuel Swann, and afterwards 
removed with his relatives, Porter, Moseley, Moore, and Lil- 
lington, to the Cape Fear and took up his residence at Spring 
Garden in 1727, where he died in 1734. 

* Book D, 188, N. H. 

t Afterwards (in 1755) commander of Fort Johnston. His brother (?) Sir Wm. Dal- 
rymple, married Miss Martha Watters, sister of Joseph Watters. Captain Dalrymple had 
trouble with Governor Dobbs, was removed from command of the fort, and was suc- 
ceeded ( 1758 ) by Captain ( afterwards general ) James Moore. 

t Book C, 32, N. H. 



Returning now to the mouth of Old Town Creek and pro- 
ceedmg north on the river, the first place is the site of the 
Old Town, which still retains its name of the Old Town plan- 
tation. In 1 761 Judge Maurice Moore, son of Col. Maurice 
Moore, bought this plantation from his brother Gen. James 
Moore, and in 1768 sold it to John Ancrum, one of the early 
settlers and a prom^inent man, who was a leading merchant, (after Harnett) of the Safety Committee, and one 
of its most active members from the start. 


The place next north of Old Town was called Clarendon, and 
still retains the name. Who gave it the name we do not know, 
but it was owned by Mr. Campbell at an early period, and 
afterwards by Mr. Joseph Watters. 


Next above Clarendon was the estate called the Forks, which 
was owned by Richard Eagles in 1736, and was afterwards 
bought by John Davis, Esq., and later by Mr. Joseph Eagles. 
Richard and Joseph Eagles were among the first settlers on the 
Cape Fear. Their descendants were prominent, but the family 
is now extinct. They came from Bristol, and it is a remarkable 
fact that this writer some years ago, being introduced to a Mr. 
Eagles living about 25 miles from Wilmington, upon inquiry 
discovered that he had come with the Northern army which 
captured Fort Fisher in 1865, had never heard of the Old 
Cape Fear family, was an Englishman, was from Bristol, and 
was named Richard ! 


The next place was Buchoi, owned by Judge Alfred Moore. 
The origin of this name puzzled the present writer because he 
knew that while there was a number of French names, then 
fashionable for estates. Judge Moore would not have written 
the name Buchoi (intending Beauchoix) but his puzzle was 



solved when he discovered several years ago, that one of the 
old Moore estates on Goose Creek, S. C, bore an Indian name 
which was spelled in the records there Boo-Chawee, the spell- 
ing in both cases being according to the sound, or, in modern 
phrase, phonetic. 


Adjoining Buchoi was Belville, owned by yiv. John Wad- 
dell,* son of Gen. Hugh Waddell, who also owned three other 
plantations farther up the river. 


Then came Belvidere, owned by Col. Wm. Dry, and later by 
Governor Ben Smith. This place is nearly opposite the City 
of Wilmington, but intervening is Eagles' Island, formed by 
the cut-off novv called Brunswick River, but in the earliest 
period called the Northwest or main branch, which latter was 
then called the Thoroughfare. 

This completes the list of places on the west side of the river 
from below Brunswick to the forks of the river at Wilming- 
ton, all of which except those on upper Old Town Creek, were 
rice plantations with large tracts of timber land adjoining them 
to the v\'estward. 


Between the forks of the river opposite W^ilmington was 
the Negro Head Point plantation which at an early period be- 
longed to Col. Peter Alallett, and from his time to the present 
has been called Point Peter. 

The name of this place has long been erroneously supposed 
to have been given to it from the fact that a negro's head was 

* Mr. Waddell used to tell of an incident that happened not far from this plantation 
during Craig's occupation of Wilmington. He was a little boy eleven years old at the 
time, and was being carried by his guardian, Mr. John Burgwin, to Charleston to be sent 
to school in England, where his two elder brothers were. A sentinel halted the vehicle and 
demanded Mr. Burgwin's pass, which he received and solemnly inspected and returned, 
saying it was all right. After passing, Mr. Burgwin began to laugh heartily, and the little 
boy asked the reason, to which he replied that the sentinel held the pass upside down 
while pretending to read it. Mr. Waddell also related that when the ship that carried him 
to England was entering the Thames a great ship, called the Royal George, hailed, and 
asked, "what news from America," to which the answer was shouted : "A great victory 
for His Majesty's troops at Guilford Court House." Mr. Waddell married Sarah, daugh- 
ter of Gen. Francis Nash. 


said to have been stuck up there at the time of the Nat Turner 
insurrection in 1831, but this is a mistake, for the point was 
called Negro Head Point in court records as early as the year 
1764. How it originated is not known. 

There is a similar error as to the name of the stream called 
Jumping Run, just below Wilmington, which has long been 
attributed to an alleged incident of the American Revolution, 
but that name also appears in court records more than ten 
years before the Revolution. 

Now, beginning at Wilmington and going up the Northeast 
River, the first place was Hilton, owned by Cornelius Harnett, 
"the pride of the Cape Fear." 

HILTON. ^., 

There has been much misinformation about this place. As 
early as June 3d, 1730, in a deed from John Gardner Squier'^ to 
John Maultsby for land on Smith's Creek, he described it as 
"adjoining Harnett's," showing that Cornelius Harnett, Senior, 
owned it at that time, for then the younger Harnett was only 
seven years old. About that time the elder Harnett had a 
ferry at Maultsby's Point. The land was called Maynard by 
Harnett, and the name Hilton was not given to it until the 
widow of C. Harnett, Jr., conveyed it to John Hill and he sold 
it to his brother, Wm. H. Hill, who says in his will that he 
named it Hilton after his family, although in doing so he left 
out one L, and thus gave color to the, tradition that it was 
named after the first explorer in 1663, Captain Hilton. 

H ALTON lodge:. 
Adjoining the Hilton estate on the east and fronting on 
Smith's Creek (which was named for Chief Justice Smith, who 
owned land at the head of it) was Halton Lodge, owned by 
Col. Robert Halton, one of the founders of Wilmington. This 
place was between where the county road and the present track 

* A, B, 161. Squier got a grant for the Hilton tract November 5, 1728. It was conveyed 
by Wm. Moore to C. Harnett, Jr., (150 acres ) May 3, 1753 ; so that the elder Harnett must 
have sold or mortgaged it before his son bought it from Wm. Moore. 


of the A. C. L. R. R. cross the creek, and contained 640 acres. 
It subsequently bore several names. "^ It was sold under exe- 
cution by Arthur Benning, Sheriff, on the 14th October, 1765, 
to satisfy a debt to Caleb Grainger, administrator of Joshua 
Grainger, and was bought by Cornelius Harnett, Jr., for nine 
pounds proclamation money. It was stated in the Sheriff's 
deed that the property was in possession of "John Rutherford, 
surviving administrator of Robert Halton." 

Of the history of Colonel Halton prior to the year 1730 we 
have no knowledge. In that year Burrington recommended 
him for a seat in the council, and he served both under him and 
under Governor Johnston. He was also Provost Marshal 
(changed by the Act of 1738, Ch. 3, to Sheriff) of Bath County. 
Probably on the suggestion of Burrington, who had located 
patents there, he removed to the Cape Fear about 1734, and 
was one of the original settlers at Wilmington. -j- He was an 
officer of the troops that left the Cape Fear on the expedition to 
Carthagena in 1740. 

SANS souci. 

The plantation next north of Hilton has for a hundred years 
borne the name Sans Souci, v/hich was probably given it by 
one of the Hill family, but the original owner was Caleb 
Grainger, Sr. 

Caleb Grainger, Sr., was the son of Joshua Grainger, one of 
the founders (1733) of Wilmington, then called Newtown. He 
early took an active and prominent part in public affairs, being 
a member of the Assembly in 1746, and Sheriff of the county in 
1749. In the numerous deeds recorded in the county from him 
he signs himself as planter, inn-holder, and esquire. 

He was Lieutenant Colonel of Innes's regiment on the ex- 
pedition to Virginia in 1754, the other officers being Robt. 
Rowan, Major, and Thos. Arbuthnot, Edward Vail, Alex. 

* D 488. It seems most probable that this was the " Poplar Grove " from which Harnett 
dated all his published letters. Poplar Grove was certainly not the same as Hilton (called 
Ma2/nard by Harnett ) , for Harnett applied for permission for his "negro man Jack to 
carry a gun on his two plantations, Maynard and Poplar Grove." 

t Colonel Halton owned Eagles' Island, opposite Wilmington, and sold half of ii to 
Roger Moore December 13, 1737. 


Woodrow, Hugh Waddell, Thos. McManus, and Moses John 
DeRosset, Captains. Upon the reorganization of the regiment 
after Braddock's defeat (1755) he went on the expedition to 
New York (1756) as a Captain under Major Dobbs, son of the 
Governor, and for some years afterwards was prominent in 
civil life. 

He was a large landholder and was described by Governor 
Dobbs as a ''gentleman of good fortune in the province." He 
was a prominent Mason, and having bought from George 
Moore the land on which Masonboro was settled, is believed to 
have given it that name, as the first deed in which the name is 
mentioned was made by his widow and executrix. He died in 
1769 or 1770. 


Then came Rock Hill, the residence of John Davis, Esq., who 
also owned the Mulberry plantation on the Northwest River, 
or main branch. 


Then came Rose Hill, the residence of Mr. Quince, a mem- 
ber of one of the oldest families on the Cape Fear. They came 
from Ramsgate, England. 


Next to Rose Hill was Rocky Run, the home of Maurice 
Jones, Esq., and later of his son-in-law. Dr. Nat. Hill, a distin- 
guished physician and graduate of Edinburgh. 


Near Rocky Run was Cedar Grove, owned by the DeRosset 
family, of the earlier generations of which we give the follow- 
ing biographical notes. The "Annals" of this family have been 
recently published in a beautiful volume : 

About 1735 there arrived in Wilmington from England a 
gentleman with his wife and two sons, whose name from that 
time to the present has been an honored one on the Cape Fear, 
Dr. Armand DeRosset. He was descended from three noble 


families of France and was a distinguished graduate of the 
University of Basle, Switzerland, from which he received his 
medical diploma in 1720; but being a Huguenot and son of an 
exile he neither assumed nor claimed any right to consideration 
on that account. He practiced his profession with modesty 
and diligence, and because of his charity and benevolence was 
beloved by the people among whom he had cast his fortune. 
He was recognized from the start as a leading and public- 
"^ spirited man, and was assigned to positions of trust and honor 

in the community. He was a devoted member of the Church 
of England, and he and his sons exerted themselves to estab- 
lish the parish and church of St. James, so much so as to be 
called the founders thereof. 

His two sons, Louis Henry and Moses John DeRosset, in- 
herited his virtues, and each attained distinction in the Colony. 
The elder one, Louis Henry, in 1751 represented Wilmington 
in the Assembly at New Bern, was Justice of the Peace, ap- 
pointed by the Council, was a member of the Council under 
Governor Johnston in 1752, and continued in that position until 
the Revolution ; was Commissioner to issue bills of credit, and 
Receiver General of quit rents in the Province, was Adjutant 
General on the staff of General Waddell in the Regulators War, 
and Lieutenant General under Tryon. He was a merchant and 
planter and accumulated what was in those days regarded as 
a large fortune. Being an intense loyalist, he did not, like his 
brother and nearly all his family connections and friends, take 
the American side when the Revolution began, but adhered to 
his convictions and followed Governor Josiah Martin, the last 
of the Royal Governors of the Province, when the latter was 
driven out of North Carolina. 

In 1779 he "was banished by the Province on pain of death 
if he returned." "There is,'' says one of a later generation* of 
his family, "an element of tender pathos in the story of this 
good man's life. Exiled in early childhood from his native 
Province (in France) with loss of all worldly possessions, his 

"Annals of the DeRosset Family," by Mrs. C. DeR. Meares. 


later years saddened by war and strife and banishment, losing 
again home and kindred and fortune, his life was ever tempest- 
tossed. '•' " * Through all his life, so full of trial, trouble 
and temptation, his integrity was always his preeminent char- 

After the Revolution the French Government offered to re- 
store to him the family titles and estates on condition that he 
would return to France, and to the Roman Catholic church, 
but the offer was refused, and he died in London February 
22, 1786. 

His younger brother, Moses John DeRosset, who succeeded 
his father as a doctor of medicine, soon became prominent, not 
only in his profession, but in military and civil life. When Col. 
James Innes, in 1754, took his regiment to Virginia to fight 
the French and Indians, DeRosset was commissioned as one of 
the captains of that regiment. Afterwards he held prominent 
offices, and in the troublous time of the Stamp Act was Mayor 
of Wilmington, and wrote a letter to Governor Tryon, con- 
taining the celebrated sentence "Moderation ceases to be a 
vlirtue when the liberty of the British subject is in danger." 
He wholly differed with his elder brother on the rights of the 
colonies, and if he had lived until the Revolution would have 
been prominent in it, but he died in 1767. 


The next place was the Hermitage, owned by Mr. John Bur- 
gwin, a noted seat of generous hospitality. Mr. Burgwin was 
a leading merchant of Wilmington and for some time the Treas- 
urer of the southern half of the Province before the Revolution. 
The Hermitage is still owned by one of his descendants, a resi- 
dent of Pennsylvania. 


Adjoining the Hermitage on the north was Castle Haynes, 
named for the owner, Capt. Roger Haynes, who married the 
daughter of Rev. Richard Marsden, who owned both these 
places. Captain Haynes's two daughters married Mr. Burgwin 


and Gen. Hugh Waddell, and General Waddell's wife's brother 
gave"^ her Castle Haynes, where both she and the General were 
buried. He died before the Revolution in April 1773, and 
was the ranking officer of the Province, having been almost con- 
tinuously in service in the French and Indian Wars for nearly 
twenty years, and d3dng in his 39th year. His biography was 
written by one of his descendants and was published in iSgi.-j- 


At a sharp bend of the Northeast River to the west of Castle 
Haynes was Point Pleasant, the residence of Col. James Innes, 
a distinguished colonial officer, who came to the Province of 
North Carolina prior to 1735, v.- as captain in the expedition to 
Carthagena in 1740, Colonel in the expedition to Virginia in 
1754, a member of the Council from 1750 to 1759, agent for 
Lord Carteret and Colonel of the New Hanover Militia. He 
died in 1759, "a good and true man, who died a childless bene- 
factor of the children of his poorer fellow-citizens";}: by leaving 
the bulk of his estate for their education, the first known in- 
stance of this kind in the history of the State. 


We have now reached the point where the Northeast River 
makes a bend to the eastward and where the lower end of the 
Rocky Point neighborhood near the mouth of Turkey Creek 
began on the opposite side ; and the first place to mention was 
The Oak, the residence of Speaker Samuel Swann, a distin- 
guished lawyer who, in conjunction with Edward Moseley, 
compiled the first Revisal of the Laws of the Province of 
North Carolina, (called the Yellow Jacket from the color of 
the binding) which was the first book printed in the Province. 
His residence was the finest on the Cape Fear.:J: 

* Will of Mrs. Waddell, registered in Bladen County. 

t " A Colonial Officer," etc., by A. M. Waddell. t The same, 52-53. 

i A gentleman who visited the ruins of this house more than fifty years ago, in a private 
letter to the writer of these pages, says : "It must have been one of the finest residences 
in America. * * * The stairs were mahogany. * * * The elegance one could trace 
in the ruins amazed me." There is nothing left of this mansion now except the broken 
fragments of its brick foundation. During the Revolution intrenchments for defense 
against the British were erected near it, and again in 1865 on the same ground, the Con- 
federates, retreating from Wilmington, erected breastworks and delayed the enemy. 


He began life as a surveyor, and was one of the party ap- 
pointed to run the dividing hne between North Carohna and 
Virginia in 1729, being then 25 years old, and was the first 
white man that ever crossed the Dismal Swamp, a terrible 
undertaking from which he emerged to the great relief of his 
associates, who passed around it and were ready to give him 
up after waiting for him several days. He was a member of 
the Assembly for many years and became Speaker in 1742, and 
was most influential in shaping public affairs throughout his 
career. He had one son, Alaj. Sam Swann, an officer in the 
Revolution, who was killed in a duel with Mr. Bradley at 
Wilmington some years after the close of that war (July 11, 


Not far west of The Oak was Swann Point, the home of 
John Swann, called ''Lawyer" John, vvhich was also one of the 
finest residences on Rocky Point. 


A short distance to the northwest of Swann Point was Spring 
Garden, the home of Frederic Jones, Esq., a prominent planter. 
Near it was ]\It. Gallant, owned by Col. John Pugh Williams, 
who was Colonel of the 9th Regiment, Continental Line ; and 
at a short distance from this place was Pleasant Hall, the resi- 
dence of Wni. Davis, Esq., who also owned a place on Turkey 
Creek called Bloom Hill in 1809."^ 


Above the last two places and farthest west from the river 
was Hyrneham, owned by Capt. Edward Hyrne, which was 
convey to him by Col. Maurice Moore, October loth, i736,-|- 
as a gift (as Hyrne declared in his will)t and which Hyrne 
devised to his son, Henry Hyrne, who in turn by his will gave 
it to his nephew, Harry Hyrne Watters, a minor, who after- 

* A, 189. t E, 230. t D, 142. 


wards married the daughter of Wm. Hooper, the signer of the 
Declaration of Independence. 

Col. Le Hansyus De Keyser, a Virginian by birth, but of 
French and Swiss ancestry,''' who had been adjutant of the ist 
Regiment, Continental Line of North Carolina, occupied Hyrne- 
ham as an inn after the Revolution, and tradition says that he 
there trained the fastest horse then in America, which belonged 
to a club of young men, sons of the neighboring planters. Col- 
onel De Keyser left descendants who were among the most 
respectable people of the upper Cape Fear, one of whom was 
the mother of Hon. Vv^arren Winslow, and others of the Belden 
and Gilliam families. Hyrneham was burned, like the Oaks 
and other places, but much later. 


And now we reach the center of the Rocky Point settlement, 
the first three plantations on the south end of which — Spring- 
field, Strawberryj- and The Vats — having been embraced 
in the original grant to Col. Maurice Moore in 1725.:]: 
This was the place, where Governor Burrington and Col. 
Maurice Moore met each other with their respective surveying- 
parties, and came near engaging in personal combat over their 
respective claims to the land. Moore kept possession, and, 
according to tradition, told Burrington he would find as good 
land higher up at Stag Park, which he did. At the Vats is the 
ruined vault in which the body of Colonel Moore and those of 
his two sons. Judge Maurice and Gen. James Moore, and others 
of his family were entombed. The plantation was bought by 
Mr. Ezekiel Lane, whose son. Levin Lane, inherited it, 


Next above the Vats came Clayton Hall, the residence of 
Francis Clayton, a prominent citizen, who, after being a Whig 

* Letter from Robert Belden, his grandson, to Louis S. Belden, of Wilmington, kindly 
loaned to the writer. 

t Near Strawberry ( or possibly the same tract ) was The Mulberry, the residence of 
Thomas Hooper, younger brother of the signer, who was a merchant in Wilmington and 
Charleston, and a loyalist. There was also a plantation called Mulberry on the Northwest 
river, owned first by the Watters family. 

t D, 278, called Rocky Point, from a point of rocks at the sharp bend of the river there. 


leader, became a loyalist. This place was bought from the 
executors of Clayton by Col. Sam Ashe, son of Governor Sam 
Ashe, and was one of the most interesting localities on Rocky 
Point. Colonel Ashe was universally beloved and revered as 
the last noble specimen of the ancient Cape Fear gentleman 
and soldier, having lived until 1836. He was the grandfather 
of Capt. S, A. Ashe, author of the latest (and best) history 
of North Carolina, issued in igoS."^ Clayton also owned the 
plantation on the Sound previously owned by Cornelius Har- 
nett, containing 800 acres. 


Next above Clayton Hall was Green Hill, the home of Gen- 
eral John x\she, of Stamp Act and Revolutionary fame. His 
famiil}' graveyard is there, although he himself was buried 
under an oak on Col. Jno. Sampson's farm near the town of 
Clinton in Sampson County. 


Next above Green Hill was Moseley Hall, owned by Col. 
Sampson Aloseley, son of the distinguished Edward Moseley, 
whose career in the early history of North Carolina marks him 
as perhaps the most accomplished man of his era, as well as the 


A short distance above these last named places was The 
Neck, the residence of Governor Sam Ashe, who with his 
family is buried there. His son, John Baptista Ashe, was also 
elected Governor, but died before taking his seat. 


At some distance west of the last three places was Aloore- 
fields, the home of George Moore, a rich planter, who seems 

* The advertisement of this estate for sale was published in the North Carolina Chronicle 
or Fayetteville Gazette of October 25, 1790, and it was described by the executors, Archibald 
Maclaine, Henry Urquhart. and Henry Toomer, as follows : " That well-known valuable 
plantation and parcel of land, called Rocky Point on the Northeast river, in New-Hanover 
county, containing, by original grants, 1920 acres, with a large brick house and other 
buildings — one hundred and ninety acres of this has been under crop this year, and is en- 
closed with new fence ; and there are several hundred acres clear, and fit for immediate 
cultivation. These lands are some of the best in the State, both for tillage and pasture." 


to have made a brave effort to rival old King Priam in the num- 
ber of his offspring, having been the father of 28 children by 
his two wives. He left two other evidences of his industry in 
the form of an immense long ditch and embankment called to 
this day the Devil's Ditch, because, tradition says, the rapidity 
of the work was so astonishing — one story being that it was 
done in a night — that the Devil must have had a hand in it. 
The other was the construction of a perfectly straight road 
from Moorefields to his summer place on Masonboro Sound, 
a distance of about 15 miles, which he did with his own slaves. 
The road is still known as the "George Moore Road," and 
according to tradition his method of changing his residence 
from the one place to the other was to call up fifty or more 
negroes and, distributing his household effects for summer use 
among them, chairs, tables, bedsteads, etc., to start the pro- 
cession afoot along this road, and thus make the change in one 
day, his family accompanying them on horseback. 


The last and uppermost estate on the west side of North- 
east River was Stag Park, a name given by the first explorers 
under Hilton and preserved to the present. This place was 
granted to Governor Burrington, or rather he located there an 
old "Blank Patent" issued in 171 1, and which (it was alleged) 
he altered from 640 acres to 5,000 acres. He afterwards con- 
veyed it to Mr. Strudwick, together with the Hawfields in 
Orange County. 


In this neighborhood, but exactly where is not known, was 
Bowlands, a plantation owned by John Rutherford, for many 
years a prominent man in the Province. He also owned two 
other plantations, Stoney Creek and Bear Garden,* in New 
Hanover, and lands in Bladen and Duplin Counties. John 
Rutherford was brought out to North Carolina by his cousin, 
James Murray, in 1741, when a very young man, and began 

* County Court records, 1772. 


life under his care. Murray provided a home for him in his 
own house in Wihnington, and put him to work in his store ; 
where he learned to keep accounts and sell goods. He does 
not seem to have enjoyed any educational advantages prior 
to coming to America, but he was taught by his cousin, who 
was a fairly educated man, and it was not very long before he 
began to get the benefit of Murray's influence with Governor 
Johnston and others in authority, and to be advanced to official 
position. He was appointed Recorder of Quit Rents in 1750 
and in 1756 was a member of the Council, but having displeased 
Governor Dobbs by not agreeing with that disputatious and 
obstinate old gentleman, was removed from the latter position 
in 1757, and again restored to it by the Crown in 1763. He 
owned lands in Bladen as well as in New Hanover, and in the 
latter county he established mills at his plantation, Stoney 
Creek, which were known first as Rutherford's mills and after- 
wards as Ashe's mills. At t lese mills, during Craig's occupa- 
tion of Wilmington in 1781, the British erected a field work, 
the remains of which were plainly visible fifty years ago, and 
used the mills to grind the grain robbed from the neighboring 
fields. Rutherford married Governor Johnston's widow, Fran- 
ces, and their ante-nuptial settlement, dated May 6, 1764, is on 


On the opposite side of the river, (the east side) and about 
four miles above the Vats, was Lillington Hall, the residence 
of Gen. Alexander Lillington, hero of the battle of Moore's 
Creek Bridge, who with his command first arrived on the field, 
held the first line of battle, fought splendidly, and saw Caswell 
receive the chief honors. Lillington was a noble old patriot 
and soldier, who, after this first victory of the Revolution, Feb- 
ruary 2^, 1776, rendered other valuable service, military and 
civil, to his country, and after the war dispensed a most gener- 
ous hospitality at Lillington Hall. There were no valuable 

BookF, p. 1. 

6o HISTORY OF Ni:w hanove:r county. 

farm lands on that side of the river, at least in comparison with 
those on the west side, or Rocky Point proper, but below Lil- 
lington Hall Colonel Merrick owned a place, and there was 
another called Porter's Blufif, which was described in a deed 
made in 1751 as "the property of the late John Porter." 

We have now given a complete list of all the old places on 
the Northeast River, and will now take up those on the North- 
Avest or main branch, above Wilmington, and in all cases we 
confine ourselves, both as to names of the estates and of their 
owners, to the Colonial and Revolutionary periods. In a few 
instances these places remained for one or two generations in 
the hands of the descendants of the first owners, but there 
is not one now so owned, except the Hermitage. The houses 
on all were burned. 

the: Bi^uFi^. 

The first place above Wilmington on the Northwest River, 
situate about four miles distant, was originally called Gabourel's 
Bluff, being named for its owner. Captain Gabourel, where the 
English traveler from South Carolina in 1734 found the flour- 
ishing shipping point mentioned in the first chapter. 

There was in the early days a ferry from there to Newton, 
as Wilmington was then called. This ferry was operated by 
James Campbell in 1736, and by Cornelius Harnett, Sr., in 
1739, who qualified as Sheriff in that year, and the records 
of the County Court show that there was much rivalry in 
securing the ferry privileges and some annoyance to the Court 
over it. After Gabourel's time the place was called Maclaine's 
Bluff, it then being the property of Archibald Maclaine, the 
great lawyer. It is now the site of the Navassa Guano Com- 
pany's works, and if the enemies of Maclaine, who so often felt 
the fierceness of his invective, were now alive they would 
probably regard it as appropriate that his body should lie, as 
it does, under the acid chamber of that factory.* 

* "He was of sanguine temperament and irritable passions. The slightest spark sufficed 
to kindle into flame his combustible nature. The explosions of his wrath were sudden and 
terrific, and his fiery denunciations and heated satire seethed and scorched as burning 
lava."— McRee's "Iredell," Vol. I, 370. Maclaine married Elizabeth Rowan, daughter of 
Jerome Rowan by his wife Elizabeth, who afterwards married Matthew Rowan. 



There were several plantations in close proximity above the 
Bluff, the first of which was Cobham, owned by Dr. Thos. 
Cobham, a leading physician at an early period. He and Dr. 
Haslin (who married Governor Nash's daughter) were the sur- 
geons of Tryon's army at Alamance in 1771. 


The next place was Prospect, the original owner of which 
is not known, but was probably one of the Moore family. In 
the early part of the last century it was ow^ned by Maj. John 
Walker, nephew of Maj. "J^ck" Walker, of the Revolution. 


Next to Prospect was Schawfields, owned by Robert Schaw, 
partner in the leading mercantile firm of Ancrum, Brice, and 
Schaw, which firm was established some years before the 
Revolution, and did a very large business until about 1780. 
In Tryon's expedition in 1771 Schaw was Colonel of Artillery 
under General Waddell. 


The next place was Mulberry, which, in his will,"^ made in 
1751? Wm. Watters said was left to him by his father. In 
1788 it was the property of John Davis, as appears by his will 
of that date,j- and later it belonged to the Hall family. 

There was another Mulberry on the Northeast River in 
the Rocky Point settlement, owned by Thos. Hooper, brother 
of Wm. Hooper. 


Next came Dallison, which, as we learn from a recital in a 
deed from Maurice Moore, was "the property of Col. John 
Dallison, deceased." Of Colonel Dallison we know nothing. 


The next two places were Auburn and Magnolia, which be- 
longed to the Watters and Hall families. 

C, 323— Wills. t C, 80-WiUs. 

62 HISTORY OF Ni:w hanove:r county. 


Then came a place located between Hood's Creek and the 
river, that has an interesting history and still bears the name 
given to it by its first purchaser — Point Repose. It was bought 
in 1735 and settled in 1739 by James Murray, a young Scotch- 
man of an excellent family, who came as a merchant and trader 
first to Charleston, S. C, and then to Brunswick. Very soon 
after his arrival here he bought Point Repose and a lot in Wil- 
mington, situated about where the present Orton Hotel stands. 
He was in a little while afterwards made clerk of the Crown 
and Secretary of the Council, and was for many years after- 
wards a member of the Council and an especial favorite of Gov- 
ernor Johnston. He was a man of high character, apparently, 
but was, as the editors of his letters say,* "although pubhc 
spirited, never a true American," having been, from his arrival 
in the Province until he left it and removed to Boston in 1765, 
an unwavering Loyalist. His property was all confiscated and 
sold by commissioners appointed for the purpose in I783,'|- and 
the deed is recorded in New Hanover County. It was all 
bought by his nephew. Gen. Thomas Clark, a gallant Revo- 
lutionary officer, who was his largest creditor, and General 
Clark took up his residence at Point Repose. 

There is something pathetic in Murray's case, as in all others 
of like kind. His adherence to King and Parliament was not 
dictated by the sordid and vindictive spirit that animated those 
who sought to make it the means of self -advancement and the 
gratification of personal revenge, but was inspired by a sin- 
cere conviction of the righteousness of such a course and of 
an honest belief that rebellion would be equally as disastrous 
to the colonies as to the Crown, and therefore although he 
erred in judgment to his own financial ruin, his motives were 
honorable and worthy of respect. 

* Letters of James Murray, Loyalist, 65. 

t Petition of Thomas Clark, John Innis Clark, and Anne Hooper, wife of Wm. Hooper, 
asking appointment of commissioners {Martin's Priv. Stat., 103 ). Report of com. (same, 
113 ). The commissioners were Sam. Ashe, Alfred Moore, Thomas Craike, John Lilling- 
ton, Caleb Grainger, John Moore, and James Gillespie. 


He took 110 part in the Revolution, but merely got out of the 
trouble and sought a peaceful home elsewhere. No intelligent 
and fair-minded person now denounces indiscriminately those 
who were Tories in the Revolution. Some of them, like David 
Fanning and his followers in North Carolina, and "bloody 
Cunningham" and his crew in South Carolina, were lawless 
murderers and robbers, who wreaked their vengeance on their 
Whig neighbors and their famihes, and were inspired by no 
reverence or affection for royalty or the British Constitution ; 
but there were others who were gentlemen of high character 
who venerated both, and were honestly afraid of popular 
government, and they acted according to their conscientious 
convictions of duty. 

Gen. Thomas Clark's father, Thos. Clark, Sr., married James 
Murray's sister Barbara in 1737, and in 1741 was made Sheriff 
of New Hanover County for two years, and was also appointed 
Collector of the Port of Wilmington, in place of Samuel Wood- 
w^ard, deceased, by Dinwiddie, Surveyor General of the colo- 
nies. He died in 1748 or 1749. 

His son. Gen. Thos. Clark, was born about the middle of 
August, 1 741, in Wilmington. He was sent to England and 
there learned the watchmaker's trade, which, on his return, 
he practiced for a time in Boston, but abandoned it in 1767 
and came back to the Cape Fear to take charge of his uncle 
James Murray's estate, of which his elder brother James had 
previously been manager. He seems to have been a favorite 
of his uncle because of his unusual intellectual capacity. 

When the Revolution began Clark was appointed Major of 
the 1st Regiment, Continental Line, and afterwards was pro- 
moted Lieutenant Colonel and Colonel, succeeding Gen. Fran- 
cis Nash in the last two positions, and was later, by resolution 
of the Continental Congress, September, 1783, brevetted 
Brigadier General. He was a gallant officer throughout the 
war, particularly distinguishing himself in the repulse of the 
attack on Sullivan's Island by the British in 1776; and yet. 


perhaps, no other officer of equal rank and valuable services 
has occupied so small a space in the pages of our history. 
There does not seem to have been any design in this neglect 
to do him honor, but he has been strangely overlooked. Gen- 
eral Nash, having been killed at the battle of Germantown, 
Pa., October 4, 1777, Clark, his associate and successor in 
rank, married his widow in 1782, and they lived at Point Re- 
pose, where both died and were buried.^ They left no issue. 

In a letter written from Point Repose under date of 31st 
December, 1787, by Wm. Hooper (Clark's brother-in-law) to 
Judge Iredell, he says :j- "Immediately upon my arrival at 
Wilmington it was announced to me that my son William at 
midnight had left his uncle George Hooper's house to visit 
General Clark, who had been attacked with a violent disorder 
in his head, which had utterly deprived him of his senses and 
left him (stone blind) to the care or inattention of nearly 40 
slaves, without a white person on his plantation to attend to 
his distresses. « >!< * j found the General ill indeed. He 
consented that I should send for his sister, proof positive that 
he thought himself near his dissolution. IMr. Clark is in a 
recovering state of health, his sight is, however, very bad, and 
I suppose will never be better. Mrs. Hooper and I are here, 
she waiting his consent to return, I preparing to leave this, to- 
morrow or next day." 

And again on March ist, ]\Ir. Hooper,+ writing from Hills- 
borough to Judge Iredell, says : "I have just now returned 
from the most painful visit that I ever paid in my life. Your 
old friend General Clark is struck with blindness. He went 
to bed in perfect good health ; rose after the accustomed hour ; 
opened his window shutters ; the yard of the house appeared ' 
to be in an undulating motion, black and yellow spots floating 
upon the surface of the earth ; the floor of his chamber covered 
with dry brush, which he atempted to kick away ; complained 

* Tradition says Mrs. Clark's body was afterwards removed, although the stone over he 
grave remained on the ground. 

t McRee's "Iredell," II, 184. t The same, 158. 


to his servants that the day was dark and cloudy, who informed 
him that the sun shone w^ith remarkable brightness ; bound 
up his eyes, and the next morning awakened stone blind. My 
hand was in his without his knowing me, my voice helped him 
to the discovery. His firmness is beyond all description. Thus 
he tells me, he reasoned when he was first attacked: 'Shall 
I blow my brains out? It will be pusillanimity. I can do it. 
But to dare to be blind for life will be an effort that will dis- 
cover real resolution.' Not a single complaint or repining. 
He is now on his plantation without a single white person. 
It is a school to which I would recommend youth to learn 
philosophy and to bear misfortune. I always loved the man, 
I reverence him blind, he is something more than man." 

Hooper's estimate of Clark was corroborated by Judge Ire- 
dell, who, in a letter to his wife August 29, 1781, speaking of 
him, says : "His conduct, perseverance and losses as an ofiicer 
must highly endear him to every friend of American liberty 
and virtue" ; and again says : ''His worth is so great every- 
body ought to be eager to testify their sense of it." 

Such tributes from such sources are not only remarkable 
but establish for General Clark a high claim to the veneration 
of his countrymen for all time. 

It was at Point Repose, as already stated, that Gen. Robert 
Howe died while on his way to attend the session of the 
Legislature at Fayetteville in November, 1786. Both of these 
heroes and patriots sleep in unknown and unmarked graves — 
Howe being buried a few miles from Point Repose on Grange 
farm, named for his wife's family, without a stone to mark 
the spot, and Clark's grave hidden by a tangled mass of vines 
and shrubbery — and the name of the historic home where both 
died has been corrupted by the river men and others who never 
heard of either of them, from Point Repose into Piney Poles ! 

And just here the sad reflection forces itself upon us that 
within a radius of twenty miles from Wilmington lie the re- 
mains of at least a dozen men, who were worthy of perpetual 


remembrance for their splendid services to the cause of patriot- 
ism, Hberty and humanity, and yet their deeds, their homes, 
and their last resting places are unknown to more than per- 
haps one per cent of the present population. It is the same 
old, sad story. Although a part of a comedy, one of the most 
pathetic utterances that ever fell from human lips was the 
sentence as rendered by Joseph Jefferson in the play of Rip 
Van Winkle : "How soon we are forgotten when we are 
gone.'' It was the exclamation of a common vagabond return- 
ing twenty years after his supposed death to his native village, 
and finding there no remembrance of himself. Even he felt 
the force of the thought and was humiliated by it. 


Farther up the river in Bladen County was Oakland, owned 
by Gen. Thos. Brown, a Colonial and Revolutionary officer 
of distinction, and commander of a division of North Carolina 
troops at Norfolk in the War of 1812. He married first, Sarah 
Bartram, niece of the distinguished botanist, Wm. Bartram, 
and second. Miss Bradley, of Wilmington. General Brown 
also owned a place called Ashwood, where he lived. 


Belfont,'^ the residence of Gen. Hugh Waddell, which he 
made his home, although he owned several, and is buried at 
Castle Haynes on the Northeast River, in New Hanover 


Owen Hill, the home of Col. Thomas Owen, a hero of the 
battle of Camden and father of Governor John Owen, (who 
succeeded him as the owner) and of Gen. James Owen. Col- 
onel Owen married Eleanor Porterfield, sister of Major Porter- 
field, killed at Camden. Governor John Owen married Gen. 
Thos. Brown's daughter Elizabeth. 

* On this plantation the body of Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, Cornwallis's favorite oflficer 
who was mortally wounded at Guilford Court House, was buried. 



Col. James Morehead, another hero of the Revolution and 
a leader in the assault and capture of Elizabethtown, owned a 
place called Laurens near that town. He was "a tall, thin man," 
married the widow of John Owen, brother of Col. Thos. Owen, 
and left two daughters, one of whom married Hinton James, 
the first student at the University of North Carolina, and the 
other, Isaac Wright. Colonel iMorehead died November nth, 
1807, and was buried at Owen Hill. 


Brompton was owned by Governor Gabriel Johnston, whose 
brother, Gilbert Johnston, lived there, and to whose two sons 
the Governor devised it. It was at Brompton that Gen. Fran- 
cis Marion, Huger, the Horrys and others met to reorganize 
Marion's men, a large proportion of whom were North Caro- 
linians from Bladen and Brunswick counties. It would seem, 
from a letter written by James Murray, that Governor Johnston 
intended to make Brompton his home, but, if so, he changed 
his intention. 

This list of places in Bladen does not include all that were 
owned by prominent men there, but only some of those near- 
est the river. Col. Thos. Robeson, a gallant soldier for whom 
Robeson County was named, owned large estates there, his 
residence being called Walnut Grove, and was always a leader 
of the people. He married Mary Bartram, sister of General 
Brown's wife."^' 

On the east side of the river, below Wilmington, and between 
the river and the sound, there were only a few estates, as the 
land, except on one or two small creeks, was not suitable for 
profitable cultivation. Rev. Christopher Bevis, referred to in 
the first chapter as one of the early ministers of St. Philip's 
church at Brunswick, owned a place two or three miles below 
Wilmington on the east side of the river, which by his will, 
made in 1750, he devised to the church wardens for the benefit 

*For further items about Colonel Robeson, see note Chapter V. 


of that church; and Dr. Samuel Green owned Greenfields, 
about a mile below Wilmington, which still retains its name. 
There were also one or two places on Barnum's Creek, lower 
down, the early names of which, if they had any, are unknown. 


Now, beginning on the east, or sound side of the lower river, 
there was a place nearly opposite Brunswick caled Sedgely 
Abbey, of some pretensions to unusual elegance of structure 
and equipment, according to tradition, but there is no record 
by v/hich the tradition may be corroborated. 

That there was a place so named is certain, and that its 
owner's name was John Guerard is equally so. He is buried 
at Brunswick, and the inscription on his tomb says he died 
April 25, 1789, and had been "for many years an inhabitant of 
Cape Fear." His widow married Peter Maxwell, who came 
from Glasgow, and died at Wilmington, September 23, 181 2, 
she having died two years previously. 

Thus the tradition that the place belonged to "an English- 
man named Maxwell" who lived in great state, had a private 
race track on it, and so forth, is accounted for. It was not a 
plantation, as the land there is all a sandy plain, thinly covered 
by pines and scrub oaks, but was doubtless a summer residence, 
where the sea breeze made life comfortable. A large number 
of the planters on the west side of the river made their sum- 
mer homes on the sound, and among them James Hasell, Chief 
Justice, who owned Belgrange on Town Creek. 

haseIvE's peace. 

Judge Hasell's place was next north of Sedgely Abbey. 
These places were just above the present summer resort called 
Carolina Beach, the head of the sound, and opposite the inlet 
then called Cabbage Inlet. James Hasell was a very prominent 
man for forty years, having been first a Justice of the inferior 
court and afterwards Chief Justice of the Colony, miember of 
the Council, President of the Council and acting Governor of 


the Province, When the Revolution broke out he remained a 
loyalist, but kept quiet, and continued to live at his home until 
his death in 1786. His estate was confiscated, but afterwards 
restored to his family by an Act of 1802. 


Next above Hasell's was Prospect Hall, owned by I\Iaj. 
"Jack" Walker, who was one of the remarkable characters of 
the Cape Fear, but in a different way from others. He was an 
Englishman, born December 10, 1741, at Wooler, county of 
Northumberland, of a family of land-holding farmers, one of 
whom was steward of the estates of the Duke of Northumber- 
land, and came to North Carolina in early manhood (1761). 
He was a man of powerful frame and tireless energy, and in 
a comparativel}^ short time accumulated a large fortune. He 
early took an active part in the troubles preceding the Revo- 
lution and was a Captain in Tryon's expedition against the 
Regulators in 1771. At the beginning of the Revolution he was 
appointed Captain in the ist Regiment, Continental Line, Sep- 
tember I, 1775,* brevetted J^Nlajor at the battle of Brandywine, 
April 25, 1777, and was an aide v:ith rank of Lieutenant-Col- 
onel on Washington's staff. He v/as afterwards Colonel of 
New Hanover County, where he reorganized the militia at 
Washington's request, and so continued to the end of the war. 

He cherished an intense hostility to the Tories after the 
war, which caused much feeling between him and those who, 
like Hooper and Maclaine, favored a more forgiving spirit 
toward them. In the gift of vituperation he excelled, and if 
he and IMaclaine ever ''locked horns" in that way the atmos- 
phere must have been very blue while the contest continued. 
He was uncultured and unrefined, and a great fighter, but 
good natured and a great practical joker, who never seriously 
injured an antagonist, although a tradition (preserved in Mc- 
Ree's "Iredell") says that when greatly angered the revenge 
in which he took the greatest delight was to pull one of the 

He raised and equipped his company from his own private means. 

70 HISTORY 01? Ni:\v hanovj:r county. 

teeth of his prostrate antagonist, forceps for which purpose 
he generally carried in his pocket, and regarded it as a good 
joke. And McRee also gives the following anecdote about 
him, viz : that a mad bull on one occasion rushed through the 
streets to the great terror of the people, and as he tore by, 
Maj. Walker seized him by the horns, threw himself on his 
back, and to the great horror and astonishment of the people 
rode him around several squares. 

Ala j or Walker, being a bachelor, brought over from Eng- 
land two of his nephews, Carlton Walker in 1797, and John 
Walker, his namesake, in 1803. Both of these gentlemen 
served with the rank of major in the war of 181 2, the former 
on the staff of General Gaines, and both had plantations on 
Rocky Point. Upon his death at Wilmington in 1813, Major 
Walker left his large estate to his namesake, Maj. John 
Walker, and it is an interesting fact in this connection that the 
latter, who went several times to Europe, was within less than 
fifty miles of Waterloo when that famous battle occurred. 

Maj. John Walker, Jr., married the daughter of Col. Thos. 
Davis, of Fayetteville, and died in 1862, leaving a large family. 
Maj. Carlton Walker married three times, but had children 
only by his third wife, who was the daughter of Col. Peter 
Mallett. He died at Hillsborough in 1839. 


Above Hasell's place on the creek then called Purviance's 
Creek, and in recent times by the intoxicating name of 
Whiskey Creek, lived Col. William Purviance, an active patriot 
and member of the Safety Committee, and a useful officer of 
the militia, who rendered valuable service during the Revolu- 
tion, as appears by his letter, hereinafter published. 


Then came the settlement called Masonboro, which still 
bears that name, in which, among others, the following distin- 
guished characters had summer residences, viz: Hooper, Har- 
nett, Lillington, and Maclaine. 


]Mr. Hooper named his place Finian, and there he dispensed 
a deHghtful hospitaUty. Judge Iredell described in a letter''^' 
the reception he met with at that place from Mrs. Hooper 
during the absence of her husband, whom he expected to meet 
there, which is a charming picture of the hospitality charac- 
teristic of the people of that day, and a fine tribute to the re- 
markable gifts of that lady, who was the sister of Gen. Thos. 

It is unnecessary at this late day to pay a tribute to \\'ni. 
Hooper, and we will not attempt it. 

It is equally needless to discuss Cornelius Harnett, with 
whose name and fame every school child in North Carolina is 

Of Archibald ]\Iaclaine, Attorney-General, member of the 
Safety Committee in 1776, of the Congress at Hillsboro in 
1775, and of the Convention there in 1778, we have spoken 
elsewhere, and the services of General Lillington have also 
been briefly referred to. 

To the northward of ]\Iasonboro and across Deep Inlet 
Creek, as it was called, there were fewer residents but larger 
tracts. The creek took its name from the inlet opposite to its 
mouth, but when that inlet was closed by the restless sea the 
creek was called ]McKenzie's, and for many years past, Hew- 
lett's Creek. On the north side of it, on a tract patented in 
1737, lived \Vm. Nichols, whose descendants lived there for 

*McRee's Life and Correspondence of James Iredell, I, 393. 

t In regard to the social life and hospitality of the people of the Cape Fear in the early 
days, the following quotation from a work published some years ago presents a truthful 
picture : ' 

"It was a life given to hospitahty, and, though marked by some features which appear 
rude and unattractive to modern eyes, was characterized by others which might be imi- 
tated with profit by the present generation. The respect for authority, the deference paid 
to age, to parents, and to women, and the sense of personal honor among men which pre- 
vailed, would be regarded as quite fantastic in this age of superior enlightenment; but they 
are, after all, the truest signs of real civilization, and the safest guarantees of good 

And again, speaking of the social life of the people, is this passage: 

" Some of them had town residences, but most of them lived on their plantations, and 
they were not the thriftless characters that by some means it became fashionable to as- 
sume that all southern planters were. There was much gayety and festivitj- among them, 
and some of them rode hard to hounds, but as a general rule they looked after their estates 
and kept themselves as well informed in regard to what was going on in the world as the 
limited means of communication allowed. There was little display, but in almost every 
house could be found valuable plate, and in some excellent libraries." — A Colonial Officer 
and His Times, 188. 


nearly a century, and near the mouth of that creek was the 
summer residence of George Moore, of Moorefields, heretofore 
spoken of as both the Priam and the road-builder of his age. 

Next north of this place and extending to Lee's Creek, now 
called Bradley's Creek, the land was owned by Martin Holt, 
the maternal grandfather of Harnett and father of Obadiah 
Holt, Sheriff of the County. After Martin Holt's death both 
Harnett and Obadiah Holt moved from Brunswick to Wil- 
mington and the sound. 

North and east of Lee's Creek and embracing the front of 
vvhat is now Wrightsville, the land was ov/ned by Governor 
Gabriel Johnston, to v/hom it was conveyed by Thos. Clark, the 
father of General Clark, in 1738, as part of the Ogden patent; 
and beyond Wrig'htsville to the northward Job Howe owned 
a place which he called Howe's Point, after the old Hov^^e place 
below Brunswick. Beyond this was the residence of Mr. 
Bridgen, whose sister was the second wife of the first Dr. 
Armand DeRosset (1751), and this place bore four different 
names at different times, according to a deed recorded, being 
called Royal Oak Point, Bridgen's Pastime, Bridgen's Hall, 
and Ludlow Hall."^ 

Beyond the Bridgen place, up the coast, the next place of 
which we have any knowledge was Porter's Neck, the prop- 
erty of John Porter, the third of that name. It was afterwards 
owned by Dr. Corbin, Governor Sam Ashe, and others, the 
original tract having been divided into two or three, j- 

There were other places beyond that up to Sloop Point, of 
which we have no early history, except that the latter was 
owned by Mr. Whitfield about the time of the Revolution, and 
has been owned by his descendants, the McMillans, ever since. 

*D,p. 490. 

t The last owner, prior to 1861, of Porter's Neck was N. N. Nixon, Esq., whose peanut 
crop for 1860 netted him over twenty thousand dollars. 


Under Martin's Administration — Fire in Wilmington — 
A Bold Adventuress — The Scotch Immigrants — Flora 
McDonald — Beginning of the Revolution — Help for 
Boston — Organization of the Safety Committee. 

Governor Tryon left North Carolina June 30, 1771, to take 
the governorship of New York, and the next day James Hasell, 
the senior member of the Council, took charge of the govern- 
ment until August II, when Josiah Martin, the newly appointed 
Governor, arrived and took the oaths of office at New BeriL 

In January prior to his arrival there was a disastrous fire in 
Wilmington, and the first Assembly under his administration, 
in November, 1771, passed an act in which provision was made 
for better protection against fires there. "^ 

In the following winter the prominent people of Wilming- 
ton wxre victimized and made ridiculous, as the Governor him- 
self and many gentlemen in Virginia had been, by one of the 
most audacious female impostors that ever lived. In Martin's 
History of North Carolina,-|* the following account of this bold 
and accomplished person is given : 

"In the course of the winter a female adventuress passed 
through the province and attracted great notice. She had as- 
sumed the name of Lady Susanna Carolina Matilda, sister to 
the Queen of Great Britain, and had traveled through the prov- 
ince of Virginia from one gentleman's house to another under 
those pretensions. She made astonishing impressions in many 
places, affecting the manners of royalty so inimitably that many 
had the honor of kissing her hand. 

''To som.e she promised governments, to others regiments, or 
promotions of different kinds in the treasury, army, and navy ; 
in short, she acted her part so adroitly as to levy heavy contri- 

* The title of this act is given in Martin's Public Statutes, but the act itself is not con- 
tained in his Private Statutes. It is, however, in the Colonial Records. 
t Vol. II, 292. 


butions upon some persons of the highest rank. She received 
the marked attention of Governor Martin and his lady whilst in 
New Bern; and proceeded thence to Wilmington, where she 
was also received with great marks of distinction. At last, 
after remaining some days in Charleston, she was detected and 
apprehended. Her real name was Sarah Wilson. 

"Having been taken into the service of one of the maids of 
honor to the Queen, she found access into one of the royal 
apartments, and, breaking open a cabinet, rifled it of many 
valuable jewels, for which she was apprehended, tried, and con- 
demned to die, but through the interposition of her mistress, 
her sentence was softened into transportation. She had ac- 
cordingly been landed in the preceding fall in Maryland, where 
she was purchased by a Mr. W. Duval, of Bush Creek, Fred- 
erick County. After a short residence there she effected her 
escape into Virginia, and, when at a prudent distance, assumed 
the name and character of the queen's sister, having brought 
with her from England, clothes that served to favor the decep- 
tion and a part of the jewels, together with her Majesty's pic- 
ture, which had proved so fatal to her." 

The immigration of the Scotch Highlanders which had begun 
as early as 1736, under Johnston's administration, and was sup- 
plemented in 1739 by several hundred more, was in 1749 again 
increased by about five hundred, and in 1754 and several times 
afterwards up to 1775, was again increased, until a very large 
proportion of the population of the country above Wilmington 
consisted of these immigrants. Among the last arrivals in the 
winter of 1774-5 were the McDonalds with their glorious her- 
oine. Flora, the wife of Allan McDonald, wliose fam.e for her 
noble conduct in saving Prince Charles Edv/ard, the Pretender, 
was world-wide. Upon the arrival of the heroine in Wilming- 
ton there was a general turnout of the people, and she and her 
daughter were treated with great distinction. A great ball was 
given in her honor, and tradition says that she was especially 
pleased by the attentions paid to her daughter by the gentle- 


men of the town.* The Highlanders themselves, being about 
to separate for their different destinations, kept up a frolic for 
two days and nights, and many pathetic scenes were witnessed 
among them.j- 

When Flora arrived at Fayetteville, where there were hun- 
dreds of her countrymen who had preceded her and had made 
that region their home for years, she was greeted by a great 
throng with manifestations of joy and was welcomed with the 
wild notes of the bagpipes. She lived for a short time in 
Fayetteville and then at Cameron Hill, and finally, early in 
January, 1776, her husband bought a farm on the borders of 
Richmond and Montgomery counties, which he named Kille- 
gray, where two of their children died and were buried. ;{: And 
then came the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge (February 27, 
1776), which was the final blow to their hopes. 

It was the intention of Governor Martin to make Allan Mc- 
Donald Commander-in-Chief of the Scotch Highlanders and 
Tories, but General Gage, whose authority in military matters 
was superior to his, had sent Gen. Donald McDonald, accom- 
panied by Capt. Alexander McLeod, out on a secret mission 
with a Commission as Brigadier General to take command, 
which he did and led their movement to Moore's Creek, al- 
though, because of illness, he was not present in that 

Annie, the daughter of Flora AIcDonald, was married to 
Capt. Alexander McLeod, the gallant officer who led the 
charge there and received twenty bullets in his body. An article 
published in the University Magazine in 1853, and quoted by 
Ashe,§ states that McLeod left his bride at the altar to go on 
the march to Moore's Creek, and to his death, and tells of a 
dispute between him and Major McLean the night before the 
battle as to whether the Americans ought to be assaulted in 

* Address of James Banks, 1857. 

t A tradition received by the present writer many years ago from his father, who said it 
was received by him in his early hfe from one or more eye-witnesses. 
t Banks. 
§ Vol. I, 503-504. 


their intrenchments or avoided by making a detour — McLeod 
doubting and McLean insisting on the assault — and that Mc- 
Lean, who survived the fight, was saddened by McLeod's death 
for the rest of his hfe. 

After the battle, Allan McDonald, Flora's husband, being 
captured, was confined in Halifax jail, and after a few days 
was released on parole within the town limits for about two 
months, and was then sent to Reading, Pa., where he was 

In 1779, Flora sailed from Charleston to Scotland, and, upon 
his release later, he joined her there and they lived in Skye. He 
died prior to 1790, and she on the 5th March of that year. Sir 
Walter Scott said that he possessed her marriage certificate, 
and that she signed her name to it "Flory." 

Before Martin's administration had half expired the first 
clouds that presaged the storm of the Revolution were gather- 
ing, and one of the occurrences that aided in their concentra- 
tion on the Cape Fear was the visit of Josiah Quincy, of Massa- 
chusetts, to Wilmington, on his tour to the South for the pur- 
pose of securing united action among the colonies by a plan of 
correspondence between the leaders of the people. He arrived 
in Wilmington early in 1773 and, after dining with a number 
of gentlemen at Mr. Hooper's house, spent the night at Har- 
nett's residence with others, of whom he says, in his diary, that 
Howe, Harnett and himself were "the social triumvirate of the 
evening," and that the plan of correspondence was heartily 
endorsed. In the month of November of that year, the As- 
sembly appointed a Committee of Correspondence. 

There was as yet no talk and no general desire of inde- 
pendence, although Hooper (the man that Jefferson after- 
wards, in a private letter, accused of being a Tory), as early as 
April 26th, 1774, in a letter to Iredell,* said: "The colonies 
are striding fast to independence, and ere long will build an 
em.pire upon the ruins of Great Britain." But while any inten- 

*McRee, 1, 197. 


tion to separate from the mother country was disclaimed, even 
by Washington, the march of events was steadily to that goal. 

On the 4th of June, 1774, the port of Boston was closed by 
Act of Parliament, passed the previous winter, and among the 
expressions of sympathy for its inhabitants, which were uni- 
versal throughout the country, none were more cordial or gen- 
erous than those of the people of the Cape Fear. The Massa- 
chusetts Gazette of September 26. contains extracts from two 
letters from Wilmington, dated, respectively, August 2d, and 
August 3d. The first told of the great success of a subscrip- 
tion for the relief of the poor of Boston, which had ''produced 
enough to load the vessel by which this letter comes." The 
other said : ''You will receive this by Mr. Parker Quince, who 
generously made an offer of his vessel to carry a load of provi- 
sions to Boston, freight free, and what redounds to the honour 
of the tars, the master and mariners navigate her without re- 
ceiving one farthing wages (truly Patriotick)." 

The following is the official communication of the action of 
the Wilmington people, taken at a meeting held on the 21st of 
July, and is addressed to Messrs. John Hancock, John Rowe 
and Samuel Adams.* It will be observed that the name of 
Cornelius Harnett does not appear among the signers of this 
letter, nor was he present at the Convention held on the 25th 
August, a month later, at New Bern. The reason for this was 
that he had gone North to confer with the committees of the 
other colonies, and did not return until December, on the 17th 
of which month he first appeared at the meeting of the Safety 
Committee, of which he was the recognized leader: 

Gentlemen : 

We most heartily sympathize with the distressed inhabitants of the 
town of Boston, and take the earliest opportunity to assure them that 
we consider ourselves as deeply involved in the misfortunes of that 
brave people. We view the attack made by the Minister upon the Colony 
of the Massachusetts Bay, to be intended to pave the way to a general 
subversion of the constitutional rights of Korth America. It becomes. 

'■ Mass. Hist. Soc. Collections, 4th Series, Vol. IV, pages 22-24. 


therefore, the duty of every American, who is not an apostate to his 
country, to pursue every justifiable method that may have a tendency to 
avert this impending calamity. The enclosed Resolves* speak the senti- 
ments of the inhabitants of Cape Fear, and, we are well assured, of this 
Province in general. As a testimony of the sincerity of our professions 
and good wishes in behalf of your Town, we have loaded a sloop with 
provisions, which we have taken the freedom to address to your care; 
and we request that you will apply them to the support of the indigent 
inhabitants of Boston, who, by the late oppressive Acts of Parliament, 
are now deprived of the means of procuring their subsistence by their 
daily labor and honest industry. Although inconsiderable in its value, 
yet we flatter ourselves that, when it is viewed as a testimony of the 
heartfelt share we take in the calamity of that Town, and as an earnest 
of our zealous endeavors to encourage them to persist, with prudent and 
manly firmness, in the cause in which they now suffer, it will not be 
thought altogether unworthy of their acceptance. 

In behalf of the inhabitants of Cape Fear, North Carolina, permit us 
to subscribe ourselves, Grcntlemen, your most obedient servants. 

James Moore. 
Geo. Hooper. 
R. Howe. 
A. Maclaine. 
Will. Hooper, 
Jno. Ancrum, 
RoBT, Hogg, 
Francis Clayton, 

To John Hancock, John Rowe, and Samuel Adams, Esquires, 

The contribution forwarded to Boston was not the only one 
sent by the people of the Cape Fear, and the ladies were as 
active in the work as the men. Mr. Parker Quince, who fur- 
nished the vessel and went on it, was a member of the long 
established firm of Richard Quince & Sons, who were leading 
merchants and ship-owners, and among the most patriotic and 
liberal inhabitants. 

The circular letter of the Wilmington Committee of Corre- 
spondence to the committees in the other counties was warmly 
endorsed by them, and soon the whole province was fairly 
seething with indigination at the Boston Port Bill and other 
legislation of the British Parliament, the result of which was 

♦Adopted July 21, 1774, at a general meeting, Mr. Hooper, Chairman, held at Wilming- 
ton to appoint a committee to issue a circular letter to the counties, and endorsing the 
proposition to hold a Continental Congress on the 30th September. 


a provincial Congress which met at New Bern, August 25th, 
and appointed three delegates — Hooper, Hewes and Caswell — 
to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. In accordance 
with the resolutions of both these Congresses, permanent com- 
mittees, called Committees of Safety, were organized, to whose 
hands the control of affairs was willingly transferred by the 

These committees were elected by the freeholders, and the 
Wilmington Committee held its first meeting on the 23d of 
November. As only partial accounts of these meetings have 
been published, and as a full and accurate history of them 
should be preserved, with the names of members present at 
each, we present in the next chapter a complete record of them, 
from which it will appear that among other things they ''put a 
stop to horse-racing, to parties of entertainment, to the impor- 
tation of negroes, requiring them to be returned to the coun- 
tries from wdiich they had been shipped; forbade any increase 
in the price of goods, sold the cargoes of merchandise that 
were imported, paying the profit for the benefit of the Boston 
sufferers, and particularly took action to secure a supply of 
powder. Its leading spirit was Cornelius Harnett, but with him 
were associated most of the merchants of the town. 

"The merchants refused to receive any more tea shipped to 
them ; locked up their stock, never to be sold, and one even 
threw his stock into the river. Nor were the women indifferent 
spectators of passing events. They sympathized with the ardor 
of their fathers, husbands and brothers, and were willing to 
make every sacrifixe the situation demanded."* 

From this general summary and from the details of the pro- 
ceedings of the Committee of Safety, it will be seen that they 
exercised absolute control of all matters, public and private, 
which in their judgment affected in any way the welfare of the 
people; and their administration of affairs, despotic, but never 
unjust, was approved and submitted to by every patriotic man 
and woman. 

Ashe, History of North CaroUna, Vol. I, 427. 



It seems appropriate, and may be interesting, before giving 
the record of the Wihiiington Safety Committee, to call atten- 
tion to some facts in that record which appear to throw light on 
a subject of long-standing controversy, and which have never 
before attracted attention. They were first published by this 
writer in the Charlotte Observer, as an extract from this book, 
as follows : 

In all the discussion of the Alecklenburg Declaration of 
Independence, which has proceeded intermittently for nearly a 
hundred years, there has never been the slightest allusion, so 
far as we have observed — and we have read most of the litera- 
ture on the subject — to certain facts which seem to corroborate 
the evidence that there was a meeting in Charlotte, May 20, 


These facts do not in any way affect the genuineness or 
the falsity of the Declaration so long accepted as having been 
framed on that day, nor do they indicate the action, if any, 
taken by the meeting on that day. 

They are to be considered solely in connection with the 
question : Was there a meeting on that day in Charlotte ? 

It is not pretended that these facts are conclusive of the 
question, but that, taken in connection with the direct affirma- 
tive evidence, the}^ raise a strong probability in its favor. 
Some writers not only deny the actuality of the Declaration 
alleged to have been made on the 20th, but deny that there was 
any meeting on that day ; others deny that the alleged contem- 
porary evidence in support of the meeting on the 31st of jNIay, 
and of the allegation that the witnesses for the 20th confused 
dates, is sufificient or that purpose ; but all admit that on some 
day in May, 1775, there was a meeting at which there was 
action amounting to a declaration of independence. 

The facts to which we refer prove that for several months 
prior to May there was correspondence and concerted action 
between the town, county and district safety committees of 
the province, which originated with the Wilmington com- 
mittee on the 4th of January. 1775, when that committee, 


after the freeholders of New Hanover County had also met 
and appointed a county committee to cooperate with the town 
committee, passed the following resolutions : 

'Then the committee resolved to have monthly stated meet- 
ings, and that the first monthly meeting be in ¥/ilmington on 
the 20th day of January, inst., and be continued the 20th day of 
every succeeding month.' 

These monthly stated meetings on the 20th continued regu- 
larly until January 20th, 1776 — that is for a year. 

On the 8th of May the messenger bearing the news of the 
battle of Lexington and communications from the committees 
by whom it was forwarded, arrived in Wilmington at 3 o'clock 
p. m., and Cornelius Harnett, chairman of the committee, at 4 
o'clock, forwarded the papers to Richard Quince, Sr., at Bruns- 
wick, with the following note : 

Dear Sir: I take the liberty of forwarding by express the enclosed 
papers which were received at 3 o'clock this afternoon. If you would 
be at a loss for a horse, or a man, the bearer will proceed as far as the 
Boundary House. 

You will please direct it to Mr. Marion or any other gentleman to 
forward the packet southward with greatest possible dispatch. 

I am. Sir, &c, Cornelius Harnett. 

Wilmington, May 8th, 1775. 

P. S. — For God's sake send the man with the least delay and write 
Mr. Marion to forward it by night and by day. 

At 9 o'clock that evening Mr. Quince forwarded the papers 
with the following note : 

Brunswick, May 8, 1775. 
9 o'clock in the Evening. 
To Mr. Isaac Marion: 

Sir: I take the liberty to forward by express the enclosed papers, 
which I just received from Wilmington and I must entreat you to 
forward them to your committee at Georgetown to be conveyed to 
Charleston from yours with speed. Enclosed is the newspaper giving 
the account of the beginning of the battle and a letter of what hap- 
pened after. Pray don't neglect a moment in forwarding it. 
I am your humble servant, 

Richard Quince. 


82 HISTORY 01^ ne:w hanove:r county. 

The news came to Wilmington via Edenton, where it ar- 
rived on the 4th, thence to New Bern on the 6th, New River on 
the 7th, and Wilmington the 8th, thus taking five days to come 
from Edenton. (Colonial Records IX, 1238). The distance 
from Edenton to Wilmingtoix is nearly the same as from Hali- 
fax to Charlotte, which is supposed to have been the route of 
the messenger to the latter place, who arrived just before a 
meeting there, according to all accounts. Why there should 
have been such a difference in the time consumed in travel, we 
do not know. The message could have been sent even from 
Wilmington to Charlotte after it reached Wilmington, in six 
days, and that would have left five days before the 20th, and it 
would have been stale news by the 31st — news nearly three 
weeks old. 

This would certainly seem to support the evidence of the 
various witnesses who certified that they attended a meeting on 
the 20th at which the news of the battle of Lexington was re- 
ceived, especially vv^hen the alleged Declaration of the 20th ex- 
pressly refers to the battle of Lexington, while the Resolutions 
of the 31st make no allusion to it. 

On the 20th of May, among other proceedings, the follow- 
ing resolutions were adopted in Wilmington : 

"Resolved, That the committees of the respective counties 
in this district be invited to meet in Wilmington on the 20th of 
June next in order to deliberate on several matters of impor- 
tance that will be laid before them respecting the general cause 
of America. 

''Resolved, A paper containing the reasons of the magis- 
trates of Chatham county for not signing the association pre- 
sented to them by one Doctor Piles, is highly approved of by 
this committee, and is ordered to be pubhshed in the Cape Fear 

On the 20th of June there was "a general meeting of the 
several committees of the district," as provided for at the May 
meeting, at the court-house in Wilmington, at which represent- 


atives from New Hanover, Brunswick, Bladen, Onslow and 
Duplin were present, and a letter from the committee of Cross 
Creek (Fayetteville) was read, and an answer was ordered to 
be written by the chairman, Mr. Quince. There was also a 
committee appointed to answer the proclamation of the royal 
Governor, Martin ; and Cornelius Harnett was appointed to 
write a letter to the committee of Cumberland county to secure 
the gunpowder there for the public. 

At this June meeting of the several committees of the dis- 
trict an "association," as it was called, was adopted, which is 
declared to have been "formerly agreed by the committee of 
New Hanover county." This association, or statement of facts 
justifying an appeal to arms and announcing that the subscrib- 
ers were united "under every tie of religion and honor," and 
"associated as a band in defense of an injured country," was 
identical in language (except one or two words) with the 
Liberty Point resolutions adopted at the Cross Creek (Fayette- 
ville) meeting on the same day, 20th of June. 

Thus it appears that after correspondence between the com- 
mittees of the six counties. New Hanover, Brunswick, Bladen, 
Onslow, Duplin and Cumberland, a common day (the 20th) 
for meetings, and a common form of association, were adopted, 
and that correspondence with the magistrates of Chatham 
county (who probably acted as the committee there) had been 
going on. 

Now, while the Mecklenburg Declaration, whether made 
on the 20th or 31st of May (a question not before us) far sur- 
passed the "association" of these counties, or any other part of 
the country, and was wholly different from, and not the result 
of concerted action as theirs was, still the fact that long before 
either date — that is to say, more than four months before — the 
20th day of the month had been agreed on by these counties as 
the time for their regular monthly stated meetings, and that 
"occasional meetings" were held on the call of the chairman; 
and while it is admitted on all sides that "in March and April 
there were many meetings of the safety committee of Meek- 


lenburg" (Ashe, 454) and that Gen. Joseph Graham said: 
"During the winter and spring preceding that event (the Dec- 
laration) several popular meetings of the people were held in 
Charlotte, two of which I attended," it would seem that the 
positive evidence of a meeting on the 20th is supported by the 
probabilities of the case. 

There is no record of a meeting, made at the time of the 
meeting, either on the 20th or 31st. The meetings in Meck- 
lenburg were popular meetings ; those on the Cape Fear were 
meetings of the Safety Committee, to whom all government, in 
public and even in social life affecting the community, was en- 
trusted by the people, and their proceedings were faithfully 
recorded and are preserved in their integrity. They were pub- 
lished in the Cape Fear Mercury, which was the nearest Whig 
paper to Charlotte, and it is reasonable to suppose that the 
resolution of the 4th of January, appointing the 20th of the 
month as the day for the monthly meetings, in which the other 
counties of the district united, was well known to the Aleck- 
lenburg committee, and that they had also appointed that day 
and provided, as did the Wilmington committee, for ''occa- 
sional" meetings between times. Some very important matters 
were attended to at these occasional meetings as well as at the 
monthly meetings. 

There is no reason for assuming that there was not a meet- 
ing on the 20th in the absence of evidence to sustain it. The 
fact, if it is a fact, that there was a meeting on the 31st does 
not disprove it. There may have been meetings on both days. 

If it be said that the meeting was called not on the 20th, 
but on the 19th, and was continued on the 20th, the answer is 
that that meeting was not a safety committee meeting, but a 
popular meeting which discussed the situation, and the next 
day heard and endorsed the resolutions already prepared by 
the Safety Committee, just as was done at the June meeting of 
the district committees at Wilmington above mentioned. It is 
at least worthy of notice that meetings were held on the 20th 
of May, not only in the Cape Fear country, but in Pitt county 

HISTORY OF Ni:vv hanove:r county. 85 

and elsewhere in the province of North CaroHna. They may 
have been mere coincidences, of course, and not the result 
(except in the Cape Fear counties) of a mutual understanding, 
but the latter is the more probable. 

Disclaiming again any intention to express in this book an 
opinion on the main question, although we entertain one, we 
will merely add the following observations : 

There are those who speak as members of ''the modern 
school of historical writers" — a term more high sounding than 
self-explanatory — and some of them, in their zeal to establish 
the fact that the Resolutions of May 31st were the only ones 
adopted at Charlotte, deny that there was a meeting held there 
on the 20th. 

If by the term "modern school" is meant those v/ho have 
discovered or used new facts, the title is a misnomer; if it 
means those who use a new method in dealing with facts, old 
or new, we would like to know the method, but in either case 
we adhere to the opinion that in dealing with evidence and 
arguing probabilities there is no necessity for a modern school, 
as the rules applicable to the process have been well estab- 
lished for centuries. 


Proceedings of the Safety Committee oe the Town of 
Wilmington, with Occasional Minutes of Joint Meet- 
ings OF TtiE Committee of New Hanover County and 
THE Committee of the District of Wilmington, in 1774, 
1775, AND 1776. 

Wilmington, November 23, 1774. 

At a Meeting of the freeholders in the Court House at Wil- 
mington, for the purpose of choosing a Committee for said 
town, to carry more effectually into execution the Resolves of 
the late Congress held at Philadelphia, the following names 
were proposed and universally assented to. 

Cornelius Harnett, John Quince, Francis Clayton, William 
Hooper, Robert Hogg, John Ancrum, Archibald McLain, 
John Robeson, James Walker. 

The Committee then adjourned until 6 o'clock that evening. 

Wilmington, November 23, 6 o'clock p. m. 

Present : Archibald McLain, John Q|uince. John Ancrum, 
Francis Clayton, James Walker. 

It being then moved that Ancrum, Forster and Brice and 
others, having imported quantities of tea in the brig "Sally," 
Captain Innes not knowing how to dispose of them, had by 
the interposition of Captain Forster informed the Committee 
thereof, in the Court House immediately after the election 
craving their advice : It was Resolved — that though this appli- 
cation did not come properly under the cognizance of a com- 
niittee chosen to inspect the conduct of the inhabitants of this 
town, regarding certain resolves entered into by the Conti- 


nental Congress — yet as Capt. Forster and the other gentlemen 
concerned, chose to walk hand in hand with their approbation, 
the following letter to Mr. Hill* was agreed to : 

Wilmington', November 23, 1774. 
Mr. Hill: Sir: This day, at a very numerous meeting of the freehold- 
ers of this town, for the purpose of appointing a committee, to carry 
more effectually into execution the Resolutions of the late Continental 
Congress, the subscribers of this letter were chosen and compose a 
majority thereof. The first article presented to our notice being a 
quantity of teas imported by yourself and others, in your brig "Sally," 
Capt. Innes; we inquire of you and beg your immediate answer, 
whether said tea may not be regularly remitted by the vessel, and 
whether the Custom House will in that case have any right to demand 
the duty or refuse clearing her out. 

WiivMiNGTON, November 25, 1774. 

The Committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Archibald McLain, John Ancrum, Robert Hogg, 
Jamies Walker, John Quince, Francis Clayton. -j- When Mr. 
Hill's answer being produced was read as follows : 

Brunswick, November 24, 1774. 

Gentlemen : I can not take upon me to answer your inquiries con- 
cerning the tea brought into this port by the "Sally." The Collector 
and Comptroller, I hear, will be at Wilmington to morrow or next day. 
The management of the King's duty is particularly their department, 
and they will determine whether the tea may regularly be remitted by 
the vessel, or whether the duty is to be paid; or whether they will clear 
it out. 

The safety of the people is, or ought to be, the Supreme Law; the 
gentlemen of the Committee will judge whether this law, or an Act 
of Parliament should at this particular time, operate in North Caro- 

* Mr. William Hill, merchant at Brunswick and justice of the peace, was a man of prom- 
inence, of high character and well connected, having married Margaret, daughter of Na- 
thaniel Moore. He was a native of Boston. His grandfather was Henry Hill, of Boston, 
who died in 1726, and who owned all of South street and large distilleries near Essex street. 
John Hill, his son, by will dated March 16, 1773, bequeathed his estate to his daughters, 
and "only son William, now living in Brunswick, Cape Feare, North Carolina." Mr. 
Hill's tomb is in St. Philip's churchyard. He died August 23, 1783 His descendants are 
very numerous, and several of them have been distinguished in both civil and military 

t For notices of the above-named committee, except Walker and Hogg, see Chapter II. 
James Walker was a merchant and planter, and Robert Hogg a merchant. Each after- 
wards became so "neutral" in the Revolution as to lose the confidence of the Whigs. 


liiia. I believe every tea importer will cheerfully submit to their de- 
termination. I can answer for, gentlemen, your most obedient. 

(Signed) W. Hill. 

It was agreed by a majority, after the point had been ma- 
turely reasoned, that the subject was not in the extent of the 
Committee's inspection, and that it ought to be recommended 
to those concerned to conduct themselves with discretion and 
for the good of the country. 

The Committee then adjourned to the 26th inst. 

Wilmington, Novemiber 26, 1774. 

The Committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Francis Clayton, Robert Hogg, John Ancrum, 
John Quince, Jamxcs Walker, and Archibald McLain. 

The Committee, finding that several gentlemen intended to 
start horses, which they have had for some time in keeping, 
for the Wilmington subscription purse on Monday the 28th 
inst., and the general Congress having particularly condemned 
horse racing as an expensive diversion, the Committee thought 
proper to send the following admonitory circular letter to the 
several gentlemen who had kept horses for the race, to wit: 

WiLMiNGTO?^", November 26, 1774. 
Sir: The Continental Congress,* lately held at Philadelphia, repre- 
senting the several American colonies, from Nova Scotia to Georgia, 
associated and agreed among other things, for themselves and their 
constituents, to "discountenance and discourage every species of ex- 
travagance and dissipation, and especially all horse racing, and all 
kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shows and plays and other 
expensive diversions and entertainments," and we being the majority 
of the committee, chosen by the freeholders of Wilmington to observe 
the conduct of all persons touching the association of the said Congress, 

*The Continental Congress, which met in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, following the 
precedent of the Association of the Sons of Liberty, drew up a Declaration of Rights, 
pledged themselves to break off all commercial intercourse with England and to forego all 
the luxuries of life. William Hooper, with Caswell and Hewes, were the representaivess 
from North Carolina. Mr. Hooper is noticed elsewhere. He was a truly loyal Whig, ac- 
tive and energetic, reserved, except with friends ; was not popular, but won respect by his 
culture and devotion to his duties ; was on several important committees, and aided in 
drawing up the celebrated report of the committee on the "rights of the colonies in gen- 
eral." He did not deserve the aspersions of Mr. Jefferson. 


think it our indispensable duty to inform you that in our opinion the 
avowed intention of running horses for the subscription purse near this 
town on the 28th inst., if carried into execution, will be subversive to 
the said association, and a breach of the resolves of the general Con- 
gress; and that if the gentlemen who intended to enter horses for said 
purse (of whom we understand you are one) persist in running the 
race, we shall be under the disagreeable necessit}^ of bearing public 
testimony against a proceeding which immediately strikes at the ground 
of the association and resolves, by disuniting the people. 

You must be sensible. Sir, that the Americans have not the most 
distant prospect of being restored to their former rights or of suc- 
ceeding in their attempts to defeat a venal and corrupt ministry and 
Parliament, but by an unanimous adherence to tht, resolutions and 
advice of their representatives in the late general Congress; and as a 
friend to your country, we have no doubt but you will readily relin- 
quish an amusement that however laudable in other respects, is cer- 
tainly attended with considerable expense, and even destruction to 
many individuals; and may very justly be condemned at a time when 
frugality should be one of our leading virtues. 

We shall only add that nothing will so effectually tend to convince 
the British Parliament that we are in earnest in our opposition to 
their measures, as a voluntary relinquishment of our favorite amuse- 
ments. Those who will take the trouble of making observations on 
mankind must soon be convinced that the people who abandon their 
pleasures for the public good are not to be biased by any other con- 
sideration. Many will cheerfully give up their property to secure the 
remainder. He only is the determined patriot who willingly sacrifices 
his pleasures on the altar of freedom. 

We are, &c. 

which was signed by all of the committee present. The 
committee then adjourned to the loth of December. 

W11.MINGTON, December lo, 1774. 

The Committee met according to adjournment. 

Mr. John Slingsby* & Co. inform the Committee that they 
have imported in the brig ''Diana," Capt. Authven, master 
from Glasgow, since the first instant, a cargo of goods for their 

* Slingsby afterwards turned loyalist, and commanded the Tories at the battle of Eliza- 
bethtown, August 29, 1781, where he was defeated and killed. He was an Englishman by 
birth, and a brother-in-law of John DuBois, another member of the Safety Committee. — 
Maclaine to Iredell (McRee, I, 549.) 


Store in this town, amounting to £1916.75.2 2-3 sterling, and 
another cargo for their store at Cross Creek, amounting to 
£1018.135.93-4 sterling, and delivered the same with the in- 
voices thereof into the hands of the committee, requesting that 
they may be sold agreeable to the association of the general 

Resolved therefore, that the sale of the said goods, be on 
Wednesday the 14th inst. and that public notice thereof be 
given immediately. 

The Committee adjourned to the 14th inst. 

Wilmington, Wednesday, December 14, 1774. 

The cargoes of goods imported by John Slingsby & Co. and 
put into the hands of the committee the loth inst., were put 
up to public sale at the Court-house pursuant to notice when 
the importers became the last and highest bidders for the said 
goods, that is to say for the several goods imported for their 
store in Wilmington, the sum of nineteen hundred and twenty- 
three pounds (£1923) ster. and for the several goods imported 
for their store at Cross-creek the sum of one thousand and 
twenty pounds (£1020) like money. 

Exclusive of the amount of the several goods in the two in- 
voices as mentioned in the proceedings of the loth inst., there 
was gunpowder for the Wilmington store to the amount of 
£11. IDS sterling, and for the Cross-creek store to the amount 
of £6. 1 8s sterling, which as appears to the committee, never 
came to the hands of the said John Slingsby & Co., not having 
been shipped on board the said brigantine. 

The committee met at 6 o'clock p. m. ]\Ir. Herold Black- 
more, informed that he had imported since the first instant, 

in the Sloop Alary and the Brig , five negro slaves, and 

craved advice how to proceed, as he had given orders for the 
purchasing and shipping said slaves, previous to the resolutions 
of the provincial Congress. The committee desired that Mr. 
Blackmore, would not sell, or send them out of town, but be 


accountable for them at the next meeting — then adjourned to 
December the 17th, 1774. 

Wilmington, Saturday, December 17, 1774. 

The Committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: CorneUus Harnett, John Ancrum, Robt. Hogg, 
John Quince, Archibald M'Lain, James Walker and John 

The committee finding upon inquiry that one of the slaves 
imported by Herold Blackmore, was ordered after the publi- 
cation of the resolves of the provincial convention of this prov- 
ince, and in contradiction thereto, and that he had at that 
time an opportunity to contradict the orders he had given for 
the other slaves, and he now confessing that he sent a copy 
of the provincial resolves to Granada: it is the opinion of the 
committee that the said slaves be reshipped. And the com- 
mittee do resolve, that all slaves imported since the first day 
of this instant, or which may be imported shall be reshipped 
from this province. Upon a suggestion to the committee that 
Mr. Arthur Mabson hath imported in his schooner from the 
West Indies, some slaves which are now at his plantation near 
this town : it is ordered that the sense of this committee re- 
lative thereto be made known to Mr. Mabson, and that Mr. 
McLain write to him for that purpose, which he hath done as 
follows, to-wit: 

Wilmington, Dec. 17, 1774. 

Sir: The committee for the town, chosen to observe the conduct of 
all persons touching the association of the General Congress, have re- 
solved that all slaves imported into this river, since the first day of 
December, instant, shall be re-shipped to the place from whence they 
came as soon as possible, and being informed that you have, contrary 
to the express letter of the said association, imported slaves from the 
West Indies, which you have now at your plantation, it is expected that 
you will give a particular account of the number thereof, and take such 

*Merchant and planter. 


steps as may satisfy the committee that you intend, on your part, to 
adhere strictly to the regulations laid down by your representatives. 

I am, Sir, your obd't servant, 

(Signed) Aechibald M'Laine. 

Mr. Mabson. 

Capt. John Dean from Glasgow presented to the committee 
an invoice of goods amounting to (15) fifteen pound sterUng, 
which he requested might be sold agreeable to the association 
and resolves of the General Congress, and the said goods are 
accordingly ordered to be sold on Monday the 19th inst. 

Upon the complaints of divers persons that the proprietors 
of the distillery"^^' in this town have advanced the price of their 
rimi from 2s 8d to 3s currency, per gallon : Mr. Wilkerson 
the acting partner was summoned and attended, and having 
alleged in his justification that Molasses is now at a higher 
price than formally, that what he hath imported lately was 
purchased at an advanced price, and was of inferior quality, 
and that the cargoes sent out to purchase it sold lower than 
usual, it is the opinion of this committee that they can not 
interfere, unless the purchasers miake it appear, that the pro- 
prietors of the distillery sell their spirits for greater profits 
than they have usually done. 

The committee came to the same resolutions with respect 
to the complaints against some merchants for raising the price 
of goods, particularly gun-powder, it appearing that that article 
is extremely scarce, and that a merchant in this town, hath 
offered 4s per pound for a quantity to supply his country stores, 
and could not produce it at four shillings and sixpence. 

The committee adjourned till Alonday the 19th inst. 

Monday, December, 19, 1774. 
The committee met according to adjournment. 
Present : [No names inserted in the manuscript.] 
The goods of Capt. John Dean were exposed to sale, pur- 
suant to notice, and sold for the sum of £ sterling. 

The committee adjourned till further notice. 

* Harnett and Wilkerson. 


December 30, 1774. 

The committee met. 

Present : John Quince, James Walker, Archibald McLaine, 
Fr's Clayton, John Hogg, Wm. Hooper. 

Alexander Hostler & Co., produced invoices of goods 
amounting to twelve hundred and sixty pounds, seven shilHngs 
and ninepence sterling ; five hundred and seventy-seven pounds, 
twelve shillings one and a half pence sterling ; sixty-one pounds, 
nine shillings and ten and three quarters pence, and fifty two 
pounds, nine shillings and ten and a half pence sterling; in 
the whole nineteen hundred and fifty-one pounds, nineteen shil- 
lings seven and three quarter pence, imported in the Thetis 
from Glasgow, which they delivered into the hands of the com- 
mittee and requested that the same might be sold pursuant to 
the resolves of the general Congress. 

Hogg and Campbell, produced invoice of one hundred and 
thirty tons of salt, im.ported in the North Star, Capt. Saunder- 
son, from Lymington, amounting to two hundred and twenty- 
five pounds, thirteen shillings and five pence sterling, which 
he delivered and requested to be sold, etc. 

Abraham Hunter produced invoice of anchors, cables, can- 
vas, rigging, cabin furniture and other articles, imported for 
a new vessel now on the stocks in this river, amounting to five 
hundred and sixty one pounds, seventeen shillings three and 
a quarter pence sterling, delivered the same, and requested 
that they be sold &c. 

Hanna, M'Clintock & Co., produced invoices of goods im- 
ported in the Thetis from Glasgow amounting to two thousand 
six hundred and seventy one pounds, fourteen shillings eleven 
and a half pence sterling, delivered the same to the committee, 
and requested to have them sold &c. 

John Cruden & Co., produced invoice of two bales of Osna- 
burgs, imported in the Thetis from Glasgow amounting to 
fifty-two pounds fifteen shillings sterling, which they delivered 
to the committee, and reauested to have them sold &c. 

94 HISTORY OF Ni:w hanove:r county. 

Resolved that all the above mentioned goods be sold to- 
morrow, the 31st instant. 

The committee adjourned till to-morrow. 

Saturday, December 31, 1774. 

Present : The last mentioned members. 

The goods of Alexander Hostler & Co. ; Hogg and Camp- 
bell, Abraham Hunter, Hanna, M'Clintock & Co., and John 
Cruden & Co., were exposed to sale according to notice, and 
sold as follows : 

130 tons of salt, imported by Hogg & Campbell at £225.- 

13s 5d- 

Anchors, canvas, cables, &c., by Abraham Hunter £561. 

Sundry goods in 4 invoices by Alex. Hostler & Co., £1952 
8s 8d. 

2 bales of Osnaburgs, by J. Cruden & Co., £53. 

Sundry goods by Hanna M'Clintock & Co., £2672. 

Invoices of goods imported by Thomas Orr, amounting to 
seven hundred and sixty-three pounds, twelve shillings and 
two pence, and twenty-two pounds, nineteen shillings and 
seven pence sterling, were produced and the said goods de- 
livered, and requesting that they be sold. 

The committee adjourned to the 3d of January next. 

January 3, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment, when Mr. 
Orr's goods, mentioned in two invoices, were sold for seven 
hundred and eighty-seven pounds sterling. 

Adjourned to the 4th inst. 

Wednesday, January 4, 1775. 
The committee met at the Court house. 
Present: Cornelius Harnett, Archibald M'Laine, John An- 
crum, William Hooper and John Robeson. 


At the same time, the free holders of New Hanover county 
assembled to choose a committee for the county"^ to join and 
cooperate with the committee of the town ; which the members 
present agreed to ; then the freeholders present, having Cor- 
neHus Harnett in the chair, unanimously chose George Moore, 
John Ashe, Samuel Ashe, James Moore, Frederick Jones, Alex. 
Lillington, Sampson Moseley, Samuel Swann, George Merrick, 
esquires; and Messrs. John Hollingsworth, Samuel ColHer, 
Samuel Marshal, William Jones, Thomas Bloodworth, James 
Wright, Wm. Jones, John Larkins, Joel Parish, John Devane, 
Timothy Bloodworth, Thomas Devane, John Marshall, John 
Colvin, Bishop Dudley, and William Robeson, esqrs. were 
unanimously chosen a committee to join the committee of Wil- 

The freeholders at the same time nominated John Ashe, and 
WiUiam Hooper esq., as delegates for the said county, to 
attend at Newbern, with the delegates from the other counties 
and towns to choose representatives to attend the ensuing 
Congress at Philadelphia. 

Then the committee resolved to have monthly stated meet- 
ings, and that the first monthly meeting be in Wilmington, on 
the 20th day of January, inst., and be continued the 20th day 
of every succeeding month. -j- 

The committee adjourned till to-morrow. 

Thursday, January 5, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment, and chose 
Cornelius' Harnett Esq., chairman and Mr. Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

Sampson Moseley, John Ashe, John Quince, George Moore, 

* There was also a district Committee formed later, 
t Was this action known in Mecklenburg prior to May ? 


William Jones, L. C./'^ William Jones, W. T.,-|- John Ancrum, 
Wm. Robeson, F. Jones, Samuel Swann, Thos. Devane, John 
Marshall, Samuel Ashe, Wm. Hooper, Archibald M'Laine, 
Robt. Hogg. 

Resolved that the following notice be sent to the merchants 
of Wilmington, by Mr. Swann and Mr. Robeson, to wit: 

To the merchants of the town of Wilmington, Masters of Vessels & 
Traders. The Committee of the County of New Hanover and Town of 
Wilmington, united and met for the important purpose of carrying into 
execution the resolves of the Continental Congress, earnestly request of 
you, as well wishers to the common cause of America, in which we are 
all embarked, to signify to them by the bearers of this, if you have 
any gunpowder on hand, and what quantity, that this committee may, in 
consequence of that information, take the most prudent steps to guard 
against the melancholy effects which may result from this part of the 
province, being left in a state totally deficient from the want of ammu- 
nition. It is likewise requested that you would cease to make further 
sales thereof, until informed by the committee. 

( Signed ) Cornelius Harnett, 


Mr. Owen Kenan, as holder of two notes of hand, of one 
hundred and fifty pounds each, from Jesse Barfield to Lehansius 
Kekeyser, and from the said Dekeyser to the said Barfield, 
and of two other notes of hand, for one hundred pounds, 
Virginia currency, each, from Alexander Outlaw, William 
Robeson and Wm. Jones, to John Lawson, and from the said 
Lawson and John Ashe, to Alexander Outlaw, for two races 
to be run between the several parties, was summoned to ap- 
pear and compelled to deliver up the said notes, and the agree- 
ments made for running the said races, and the committee 
unanimously resolved to indemnify the said Owen Kenan for 
all damages he may hereafter sustain by the delivery of the 
said notes and agreement. 

Mr. Swann, and Mr. Robeson, returned an account of the 
gunpowder in Wilmington, 1,434 lbs. in the hands of the 
several merchants applied to. 

Mr. Thomas Craike, was requested by the committee, to act 
as secretary, which he readily agreed to. 

Long Creek, t Welsh tract. 


The committee sent the papers of the following tenor, to 
the persons within named by Mr. Swann and Mr. Robeson. 

Fr. John Burgwin, John Robeson, Mr. McTier, Ancrum, Foster and 
Brice, Thomas Orr, George and Thomas Hooper, Hogg and Campbell, 
George Doherty, and Charles Jewkes. 

The King's proclamation prohibiting the further exportation of gun- 
powder from Great Britain, renders it highly necessary, that some ex- 
pedient should be adopted to prevent the melancholy consequences which 
to a province in respect to its inhabitants, circumstanced as this is, 
may in future arise from a total want of that article. We, therefore, 
gentlemen, assure ourselves, that you, animated with the same liberal 
sentiments that we feel, will contribute what at present falls to your 
particular department for the promotion of the public good. 

The quantity of gunpowder which is at present in the town is very 
inconsiderable, and it is absolutely necessary that what there is should 
be reserved for any future emergencies, that we may be prepared for 
every, the worst contingencies. 

We therefore, gentlemen, entreat you by the ties of honor and virtue, 
and love for your country, as you prize the regard of your fellow- 
citizens, as you wish to avoid the censure of this committee, and those 
whom they represent, that you would not within thirty days from this 
time, remove out of this town, or make sale of any of the gunpowder 
which you have reported to this committee as the stock you have upon 
hand, before the expiration of which time, this committee will endeavor 
to collect by subscription, and they doubt not of success, a sum sufficient 
to purchase and pay you for the whole of it at the reasonable price of 
three shillings per pound, which some of your well-disposed brethren have 
consented to take. And as it is intended to be made use of as much for 
your security as of the rest of the inhabitants of this part of the prov- 
ince, we address you with a certainty of succeeding in this application, 
which should it appear to you to carry with it anything uncommon, 
will find an ample vindication in the present critical circumstances 
of this province. 

(Signed) Cornelius Harnett, 


Mr. Swann and Mr. Robeson made report to the committee, 
that all the persons applied to had complied with the request of 
the committee, except Mr. Burgwin, whose answers appeared 
to be evasive, as he neither specified the quantity of powder he 
could spare nor absolutely fixed the price he would take for it. 



Resolved unanimously, that Mr. Burgwin's answer is unsatis- 
factory, and deserves the censure of this committee, and that 
he have notice thereof. 

The committee then adjourned until 9 o'clock the next day. 

Friday, January 6, 9 o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

Wm. Hooper, Samuel Ashe, George Merrick, James Moore, 
Bishop Dudley, Alexander Lillington, Thos. Devane, Samuel 
Marshall, WiUiam Jones, L-C.,"*" Wm. Jones, W-T.,-]- Frederick 
Jones, James Walker, Archibald M'Laine, Wm. Robeson, 
Samuel Swann, John Robeson. 

Mr. Burgwin's letter to the chairman was produced and 
read, and ordered to be copied as follows : 

Friday Morning. 

Dear Sib: — By what I hear passed in the Committee last evening, I 
imagine some misapprehension has taken place, as surely it can not be 
supposed I intended an insult to a set of gentlemen, for Avhom, indi- 
vidually, I have a high respect. 

I was quite unacquainted with the quantity of powder we had on 
hand, and I told the gentlemen who came to me, that my powder cost 
seven shillings per hundred more than any in town, being made by a 
particular sample I had sent home for the purpose, and I thought we 
ought to have two shillings a pound more for it; however, we should 
not disagree about trifles, and that I would give orders none of it 
should be sold, but reserved as requested. 

On the second application of Mr. Swann and Mr. Robeson, I think I 
told them with respect to two half barrels of Mrs. W's, as it was her 
property, should she send for it, I must deliver it to her order, but that 
I had no doubt of her acceptance of the price, and that I should write 
to her by the first opportunity. 

Thus far, I have repeated if not the very words, the substance of 
what passed on this subject, and should be extremely sorry to act in 
any respect contrary to the true interest of my country, or give offence 
to any individual in it. Had I reflected a moment, I should have re- 
ferred the Gentlemen to Mr. Graham, who is empowered to transact 

Long Creek. t Welsh tract. 


Mrs. Waddell's business, and could have answered for her at once, and 
to whom I now beg it to be referred. 
Dear Sir, your most obd't servant, 

(Signed) John Burgwin. 

The committee on hearing the above letter read, ordered the 
following answer to be sent him by the Chairman. 

Sir: — Your letter to me, respecting the message sent to you about 
your gunpowder, has been read to the committee, and they have de- 
sired me to acquaint you, that they are satisfied with it. 
I am sir. Yours &c. 

(Signed) Cornelius Harnett. 

The committee requested of Mr. Ancrum and Mr. Quince, 
that they would inspect the Custom House books at Bruns- 
wick, and report accordingly, which they agreed to do on 
Monday next. 

The committee then adjourned until the 20th inst. 

Friday, January 20. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

Samuel Swann, Timothy Bloodworth,"^ John Quince, John 
Ancrum, Archibald McLaine, Samuel Ashe, Wm. Jones, L. C, 
James Walker, Wm. Hooper. 

Mr. Quince and Mr. Ancrum, reported to the committee, 
their return of the vessels entered at the Custom House since 
the 5th day of November, 1774, to the 4th January, 1775, which 
was ordered to be filed. 

James Grant was appointed messenger to the committee, who 
agreed to act in that capacity. 

The committee then adjourned until 10 o'clock the next day. 

* Timothy Bloodworth, who was, par excellence, the representative of the "bone and 
sinew" element of the people during and after the Revolution, by his energy and activity 
acquired great t)opularity and high position, although his want of education was sadly 
manifest in all of his public utterances. He possessed a practical knowledge of various 
trades, being, says McRee, "preacher, farmer, doctor, watchmaker, wheelwright and pol- 
itician," but he had been a brave soldier, and what is called a clever fellow and a good 
story teller. He was an intensely radical partisan of the extreme democratic type, and 
after holding various positions was a member of the Convention of 1788 at Hillsborough, 
which refused to adopt the Federal Constitution. He was the only representative from 
the Cape Fear country who voted to make Raleigh and not Fayette ville the capital of 
the State, and was rewarded for it by a seat in the United States Senate, which he held 
for one term. 


10 o'clock, Saturday, Jan. 21, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

Samuel Ashe, Timothy Bloodworth, Wm. Jones, L. C, Samp- 
son Moseley, John Quince, John Robeson, John Ancrum, John 
Ashe, Joel Parish, Wm. Hooper, Samuel Swann. 

Messrs. George and Thomas Hooper, H. Blackmore, Arthur 
Mabson and Peter Mallett, reported sundry negroes imported 
by them since the ist day of December last. 

Resolved, That notices be sent to Messrs. George and Thomas 
Hooper, Herold Blackmore, Arthur Mabson, and Peter Mal- 
lett, to re-ship by the first opportunity, the sundry negroes 
they have imported since the ist day of December last. It 
being the opinion of this committee that such importations 
are contrary to the resolves of the Continental Congress, and a 
particular resolve of this committee. 

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, a meeting 
of the merchants and traders of the town is necessary, in order 
to agree about the rates of goods they have for sale, to pre- 
vent, as far as possible, any advantage being taken from the 
present situation of this province, with America in general, 
rating goods higher than they were formerly sold at. 

The committee then adjourned until 3 o'clock. 

3 o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment, and entered 
into the following resolves. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. 

William Hooper, John Ancrum, Samuel Ashe, John Quince, 
John Robeson, James Walker, Samuel Swann, Samuel Mar- 
shall, Robert Hogg, Timothy Bloodworth, Wm. Jones, L. C. 

Resolved. That any quantity of salt, not exceeding 5 bushels, 
be sold, at not more than three shillings and six pence, any 


Other quantity not higher than three shilUngs and four pence 
per bushel. 

Resolved, That dry goods for ready pay, be sold not higher 
than two shillings and 2d, for one on the sterling cost, except- 
ing small articles that are perishable, and not exceeding seven 
shillings and six pence profit, to be sold as usual, and all dry 
goods sold on credit at the same rates they have been sold at 
for 12 months past. 

Resolved, That the permission of billiard tables, in this town, 
is repugnant to the resolves of the General Congress, and that 
the proprietors of them have notice thereof. They were ac- 
cordingly served with such notice, and appeared at the com- 
mittee, and declared their acquiescence in the resolves. 

The committee then adjourned until the 28th of January. 

Saturday, January 28, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee : 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. John Ancrum, James Walker, Robt. Hogg, 
John Robeson. 

Resolved, That balls and dancing at public houses, are con- 
trary to the resolves of the General Congress. It is the opinion 
of this committee, that every tavern keeper in this town, have 
notice given them not to suffer any balls, or public dancing at 
their houses as they wish to avoid the censure of the people. 

Mr. W. Campbell, and Mr. John McDonnel reported sundry 
dry goods, imported by them in the Brigantine Carolina Packet, 
Malcolm ]\I'Neil, commander, and delivered up their invoices 
to the committee, to have the said goods disposed of agreeable 
to the resolves of the General Congress. 

Ordered, That the said goods be advertised to be sold at 
public vendue, at 1 1 o'clock, on Monday, the 30th inst. 

Ordered, That application be made to Capt. Bethune, of the 

schooner , from St. Augustine, to know whether the 

said schooner, is owned either in St. Augustine, or Georgia, 


and Mr. Clayton is requested by the committee, to make such 
inquiry, and report to the committee, on their next meeting. 
The committee then adjourned to the meeting of course. 

Monday, January 30, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. Robert Hogg, James Walker, Archibald 
MXaine, John Quince. 

Mr. Adam Boyd, having applied for encouragement to his 
newspaper (some time ago laid aside,) it was resolved that 
the committee so far as their influence extended would support 
him on the following terms : 

That he Mr. Boyd, should weekly continue a newspaper 
denominated the Cape Pear Mercury^ of 21 inches wide, 17 
inches long, 3 columns on a page, and of the small pica or long 
j)rimer letter, and in return receive his payments at the follow- 
ing periods, viz : ten shillings at the delivery of the first num- 
ber, ten shillings at the expiration of the year, and to be paid 
ten shillings at the end of every succeeding six months there- 

The committee then adjourned to the meeting of course. 

Thursday, February 2, 1775. 

The committee met as by adjournment. 

Present: Archibald M'Laine, Wm. Hooper, Jas. Walker, 
John Robeson, John Quince, Robt. Hogg, J. Ancrum. 

William Campbell's goods were set up at vendue, 

and sold for £760 00 o 

Amount of his invoice 754 no 

£005 19 I 


John Slingsby's goods sold £118 05 o 

Amount of his invoice 117 i8 3 

£000 06 9 

Friday, February 3, 1775. 
At an occasional meeting. 

Present: Archibald McLain, James Walker, John Quince, 
John Robeson^ John Ancrum. 

John M'Donnel's goods were sold at vendue for 

sterling £725 13 06 

To Wm. Purviance. 

Am.ount of his invoice ^1^1 ^3 04 

To be received of Wm. P £008 00 02 

William Campbell having delivered his invoice to 
the committee, at this meeting, his salt was put 

up at public vendue, and sold for £225 10 00 

Amount of his invoice 218 08 04 

To be paid by Wm. C. Sher £003 01 08 

Monday, February 13, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman. Archibald IM'Laine, Robt. Hogg, John 
Quince, Alexander Lillington, James Walker. 

Information was made against Jona Dunbibin, for taking 
four shillings per bushel for salt, contrary to the resolves of 
this committee, he being sent for, waited on the committee, 
confessed it was a mistake, and promised to return the money 
so exacted, which the committee were satisfied with. 

The committee then adjourned to the next occasional 


Monday, February 20, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment on the 13th 
of February last. 

Present : Francis Clayton, deputy chairman, Robt. Hogg, 
James Walker, John Ancrum, Wm. Hooper, Samuel Marshall, 
Wm. Jones, h. C. John Devane, Timothy Bloodworth, Thos. 

It was proposed by Mr. Wm. Hooper, that as there was not 
a majority of the joint committee, that a message be sent to 
each member to meet on Monday the 6th of March next, which 
was agreed to, and the following message, ordered to be 
printed, and sent to each member : 

Sir: — As a member of the committee appointed for the purpose of 
carrying into execution within the county of New Hanover, the Resolves 
of the General Continental Congress, you are requested to meet at the 
house of Lehansius DeKeyser, on Monday the 6th day of March next, 
then and there to consult of business of the utmost consequence to the 
patriotic support of the cause of British America. 

By the order of the Committee, 

(Signed) Thos. Craike, Secretary. 

Ordered, that the absentees of the comimittee be mulcted 
agreeable to the resolve of this committee. 

Mr. Clayton, as deputy chairman, was requested by the com- 
mittee, to wTite to Mr. James Kenan, chairman of the Duplin 
committee, which he did as follows : 

Monday, February 20, 1775. 

Sir — At a meeting of the joint committees for the town of Wil- 
mington and county of New Hanover, on this day, it was among other 
matters proposed and agreed to. That for the better communication 
of intelligence and production of a similarity of conduct in your and 
our counties; we would send two members from our joint committees, 
on any day you should appoint, after the 6th of March, next, giving 
us twenty days notice thereof and as on that day, there would be 
several matters of much concern to American welfare, agitated, will be 
happy to see two of your members at our meeting. Sir, &c. 

(Signed) F. Clayton. 


Tuesday, February 21, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee, 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Robert Hogg, John Ancrum, Archibald 
M'Laine, James Walker. 

Mr. Crowther presented to the committee, two invoices of 
European goods, imported since the ist day of December last, 
to be disposed of agreeable to the resolves of the General Con- 
gress, which were ordered to be sold at vendue, as directed by 
the resolves. 

Sales on ist invoice £204 13 ii 

Sales on 2nd invoice 044 05 1 1 

£199 II 2^ 
£202 08 0I1 
Amount of the 2nd invoice 044 00 1 1 

Amount of the ist invoice £202 08 oi| 

£246 09 Qi 

£002 10 00 
Difference on 20 bushels of potatoes that were 

sold £000 10 00 

£002 II 00 

Wednesday, March i, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: CorneHus Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Robt. Hogg, John Ancrum, James Walker, 
John Robeson. 

The committee being informed of a Public Ball, to be given 
by sundry persons, under the denomination of the gentlemen 
of Wilmington, at the house of Mrs. Austin this evening, and 
as all public balls and dances are contrary to the resoUles of 
the General Continental Congress, and a particular resolve of 
this committee: 


Ordered, That the following letter be sent to Mrs. Austin, 
to forewarn her from suffering such public ball and dancing at 
her house. 

Madam: The committee appointed to see the resolves of the Conti- 
nental Congress put in execution, in this town, acquaint you, that the 
ball intended to be given at your house, this evening, is contrary to the 
said resolves; we therefore warn you to decline it, and acquaint the 
parties concerned, that your house can not be at their service, con- 
sistent with the good of your country. 

By order of the committee. (Signed) Thos. Craike. 

Monday, March 6, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Archibald MXaine, Alex. Lillington, James 
Moore, John Robeson, Sampson Moseley, Joel Parish, Timothy 
Bloodworth, Thos. Bloodworth, James Wright, John Hollings- 
worth, Samuel Marshall, F. Jones, John Ancrum, James 
Walker, Wm. Hooper, Samuel Collier. 

The following association was agreed on by the committee, 
and annexed to the resolves of the General Congress, to be 
handed to every person in this county and recommended to the 
committees of the adjacent counties, that those who acceded 
to the said resolves, may subscribe their names thereto. 

We, the subscribers, in testimony of our sincere approbation 
of the proceedings of the late Continental Congress, to this 
annexed, have hereunto set our hands, and we do most solemnly 
engage by the most sacred ties of honor, virtue and love of 
our country, that we will ourselves strictly observe every part 
of the association recommended by the Continental Congress, 
as the most probable means to bring about a reconciliation be- 
tween Great Britain and her colonies and we will use every 
method in our power to endeavor to influence others to the 
observation of it by persuasion, and such other methods as shall 
be consistent with the peace and good order, and the laws of 
this Province, and we do solemnly intend to express our utter 

HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 107 

detestation of all such as shall endeavor to defeat the purpose 
of the said Congress, and will concur to hold forth such char- 
acters to public contempt. 

William Wilkinson, reported sundry dry goods imported in 

the schooner , Yelverton Fowkes, master, from Charles 

Town, directed to his care by Joseph Robeson, of Deep river, 
to have their opinion whether the said goods could be landed 
agreeable to the general resolves. 

The committee, after examining Mr. Wilkinson and Capt. 
Fowkes and such papers as they could produce. 

Resolved, That the said goods can not be disposed of by the 
said Robeson, or his factor, till further proof of their having 
been imported or disposed of agreeable to the general resolves, 
and that AVilliam Wilkinson, be allowed six weeks from this 
time, to procure from the committee of Charles Town, such 
certificates as shall be satisfactory to this committee ; and the 
said Wm. Wilkinson, is to store the goods, and deliver the key 
to Mr. James Walker, one of this commiittee. 

The committee then adjourned till 3 o'clock this afternoon. 

3 o'clock, the committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairmian, John Robeson, Samuel Svv^ann, A. Lillington, 
George Moore, Sampson Moseley, Wm. Jones, L. C, John 
Colvin, Samuel Marshall, William Jones, W. T., Thos. Blood- 
worth, Archibald M'Laine, John Ancrum, James Walker, 
James Wright, Timiothy Bloodworth, Samuel Collier, John 
Hollingsworth, Joel Parish, John Devane, George Merrick, 
Wm. Hooper, James Aloore, Frederick Jones. 

Mr. James Kenan, chairman of the Duplin committee, pur- 
suant to letter from this committee at their last meeting 

Resolved, That all the miembers of the committee now present 
go in body and wait on all housekeepers in town, with the 
association before mentioned, and request their signing it, or 
declare their reasons for refusing it, that such Enemies to 
their Country may be set forth to public view and treated with 
the contempt they merit. 


Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that all 
dances private as well as public, are contrary to the spirit of 
the 8th article in the association of the Continental Congress, 
and that as such they ought to be discouraged, and that all 
persons concerned in any dances for the future should be prop- 
erly stigmatized. 

Mr. Harnett desired the opinion of the committee respecting 
a negro fellow he bought in Rhode Island (a native of that 
place) in the month of October last, whom he designed to have 
brought with him to this province, but the said negro ran away 
at the time of his sailing from Rhode Island. 

The question was put whether Mr. Harnett may import the 
said negro from Rhode Island. 

Resolved, Unanimously, That Mr. Harnett may import the 
said negro from Rhode Island, and it is the opinion of this 
committee that under the above circumstances, such importation 
will not be any infringement of the article of the resolves of 
the General Congress. 

Ordered, that Mr. Grant, Messenger to this commiittee, be 
paid for his attendance on .... committee, lo days, (includ- 
ing to-morrow) at the rate of 8s. per day. 

The committee then adjourned till 9 o'clock to-morrow 

Tuesday, March 7th, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjourmnent. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, John Ancrum, Geo. Moore, Wm. Hooper, 
Samuel Swann, James Moore, Sampson Moseley, Wm. Jones, 
W. T., Thos. Bloodworth, Alexander Lillington, F. Jones, Geo. 
Merrick, J. Robeson, John Devane, Jno. Colvin, Timothy 
Bloodworth, Wm. Jones, L. C, Joel Parish, Jno. Hollings- 
w^orth, Jas. Wright, Archibald McLaine. 

Resolved, That three members of this committee attend the 
meeting of the committee at Duplin, on the i8th inst. Mr. 
Samuel Ashe, Mr. Sampson Moseley, and Mr. Timothy Blood- 


worth were accordingly nominated to attend the said com- 

The committee sent for Mr. John McDonnell, an importer 
and purchaser of sundry dry goods, as appears by the Journal 
of this committee, the 3d February last, to demand the sum 
of £ 8. o. 2 sterling money, which he became liable for to the 
committee. The said John McDonnell having made it appear 
to the satisfaction of the committee, that the goods he pur- 
chased were damaged in such a manner as not to be worth the 
first cost and charges : it is the opinion of this committee that 
the aforesaid sale is void, and that the said Jno. McDonnell be 
excused from paying the above sum. 

Doctor Thomas Cobham, Messrs. Jno. McDonnell, Jno. 
Walker, Jr., Jno. Slingsby, Thomas O'rr, Jno. Cruden, Wm. 
McTier, and Wm. McLeod, merchants, Wm. Whitfield, planter, 
and Kenneth McKenzie, and Dougal McNight, tailors, all of 
the town of Wilmington, appeared before the committee, and 
having refused or declined, under various pretences, to sign the 
association of the Continental Congress — 

Resolved and agreed, That we will have no trade, commerce, 
dealings, or intercourse whatsoever, with the above mentioned 
persons or any others connected with them, or with any per- 
son or persons who shall hereafter violate the association, 
or refuse to subscribe hereto ; but will hold them as unworthy 
of the rights of freemen, and as inimical to the liberties of 
their country, and we recommend it to the people of this colony 
in particular, and to the Americans in general, to pursue the 
same conduct. 

Resolved, That a copy of the above resolve be given to 
Adam Boyd, to print in handbills and distributed through this 

The committee being informed that a vessel arrived in the 
river from Glasgow, with bale goods, desired the chairman 
to write the following letter to Richard Quince, Esq., chair- 
man of the Brunswick Committee : 


Sir: From the captain of a vessel from Hispaniola, just come to town, 
we learn that a Snow has arrived from Glasgow, laden with bale goods, 
bricks, wines, &c. ; you are sensible. Sir, that these goods, agreeable to 
the articles of Association, ought to be returned;" and take this very- 
early opportunity of putting you in mind that she is a subject of your 
attention, having committed a breach of said Association within your 

The names of the captain and vessel are not known, but supposed to 
be the Snow Relief, Dougal McGregor master. You will please com- 
municate the procedure of your committee in this affair, I am, &c. 

(Signed) Cornelius Harnett. 

The committee then adjourned till afternoon. 

Tuesday, 4 o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Jno. Quince, Jno. Devane, Thomas Blood- 
worth, Timothy Bloodworth, Wm. Jones, W. T., Wm. Hooper, 
John Ancrum, James Moore, F. Jones, Archibald McLaine, 
Wm. Jones, L. C. 

Resolved, unanimously. That as the measures which this 
committee must be under an absolute necessity to adopt, in 
case any persons should mark themselves as objects of dis- 
tinction, in opposition to the general American cause, must be 
greatly detrimental in their present operation and future con- 
sequence to them ; We, therefore, in order to give full oppor- 
tunity to those who have not yet subscribed their names as a 
testimony of their concurrence in the continental Association 
have thought fit to delay till Monday next, carrying into exe- 
cution those signal marks of contempt which the Continental 
Congress have thought fit to consign those who are so far lost 
to public virtue, as to oppose the measures which that body 
proposed as a cement of allegiance to our sovereign, and as 
having a tendency to promote a constitutional attachment to 
our mother country. 

Resolved, unanimously, Also, that if any person who, upon 
application having been made to him, to sign the association, 
has hitherto refused, if he shall make known that he has altered 


his Resolution, and shall be desirous to set his name to the 
said association, he will find it in the hands of the chairman, 
deputy chairman or secretary of this committee, till Monday 
next, before or at which time he may apply and save the dan- 
gerous consequence that may ensue from a longer neglect. 

Account of mone}^ received by the secretary for the com- 
mittee, to be disposed of agreeable to the resolves. 

From Arch. IMcLaine, Corn'l Harnett, Al. Lillington, Sam'l 
Swann, Samp. Moseley, Fred'k Jones, G. Moore, Wm. Jones, 
Joel Parish, Jno. Devane, Jno. Robeson, at 8s. each, for not 

attending the committee as sum'd £ 4 8s od. 

From Mr. Crowther, for sale of goods, on the 

2ist Feby, 1775 4 Ss gd. 

From Alexander Hostler, for sale of goods, on 

the 31st Dec. 1774 3 os od. 

From John Slingsby for sale of goods, at sundry 

times 14 los od. 

From Wm. McTier, for sale of goods, 31st Dec. 

1774 2 OS od. 

From John Cruden, for sale of goods, 31st Dec. 

1774 8s 8d. 

From Thos. Orr, for sale of goods, 31st Dec. 

1774 15s od. 

From J. McDonnel, a gift to the Bostonians .... 3 os od. 

£31 los od. 

Accoimt of money paid by order of the committee. 

To James Grant, messenger to the committee for his 

attendance 10 days including to-day at 8s. per day. £400 

To Owen Kenan for Dickson in full for the balance 
due him by the committee appointed to receive do- 
nations for the Bostonians, for carrying expresses 
to the Northern counties £500 



The committee adjourned to the next occasional meeting. 

At a meeting of the Freeholders of Wilmington this day, 
Wm. Purviance, Esq., Alessrs. R'd. Player, James Blyth, 
And'w Ronaldson, Wm. Ewins and Henry Yomig, were 
unanimously chosen an addition to the Wilmington committee. 

Monday, March 13, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Corn'l Harnett, chairman, Fran's Clayton, deputy 
chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, Rob. Hogg, Jno. Quince, Wm. 
Purviance, Jas. Walker, R'd Player, James Blyth, Wm. Ewins, 
And'w Ronaldson, Jno. Ancrum and Jno. Ashe. 

Since the resolve passed the 6th of this inst. to make public, 
the names of the persons who refused to sign the Continental 
Association, the underwritten persons who had refused, have 
subscribed their names within the time limited. 

John Cruden, Thos. Orr, Wm. McLeod, John Slingsby, Wm. 
Whitfield, Thos. Cobham, John Walker, Jr., and Wm. Mactier. 

Rec'd this day from Mr. Harnett his subscription to the com- 
mittee, for purchasing gunpowder £25 

Monday, March 20, 1775. 

At a general meeting of the committee. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, James Moore, 
Samuel Ashe, Samuel Swann, Robt. Hogg, James Walker, 
Wm. Hooper, Alex. Ronaldson, Jno. Hollingsworth, Frederick 
Jones, Jno. Ancrum, Samuel Marshall, Arch. McLaine. 

Resolved, That the Importers of negroes since ist of Decem- 
ber last, be called upon at the next general meeting of this 
committee on the 20th of April next, to produce bills of load- 
ing, or other sufficient proof to the committee, that they have 
reshipped the said negroes agreeable to the resolves of the 
general Congress as directed by this committee. Paid for 
paper, 2s. 8d. 


The committee then adjourned to the next occasional 

Tuesday, March 24, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Robert Hogg, Jas. Walker, Jno. Robeson, Wm. 
Ewins, Jno. Ancrum, Wm. Purviance, Timothy Bloodworth, 
A. Ronaldson, James Blyth, Thos. Devane, 

Messrs. George and Thos. Hooper, reported sundry dry 
goods of the Peggy, Graham, commander, from Leith, shipped 
to their address which they desired the committee to take into 
consideration and direct what should be done with the dry 

Ordered, That the said goods be not landed, but sent back 
to Great Britain, as directed by the lOth article of the General 
Association, and Mr. John Robeson is desired (as a member 
of this committee) to go on board the said vessel, and take 
an account of the goods on board, with their marks and num- 
bers, and on her being ready to sail for Great Britain to ex- 
amine the said goods with his account before taken. 

Capt. Oldfield reported two negroes shipped to his address 
on the schooner Bedford, Capt. Benny, which were ordered to 
be re-shipped, and was compHed with by Capt. Oldfield. 

Wednesday, April 4. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present : Arch'd Maclaine, Jno. Robeson, Wm. Purviance, 
Tim'y Bloodworth, James Walker, Alex. Ronaldson, Wm. 
Ewins, Jno. Ancrum. 

Mr. Alexander Hostler applied to the committee to have 
their advice concerning a ship called the Clemantine, that was 
coming to his address from London, commanded by Dick 
Weir, which is lost on the middle ground near the bar of the 
river. At the same time Mr. Hostler delivered to the com- 



mittee, an invoice, of sundry stationery goods shipped on 
board the said vessel, which he requested the committee to 
take also into consideration and direct him what may be done 
with the said ship, stores and materials and stationery goodsc 
Ordered, That it is the opinion of this committee that the 
vessel, with her stores and materials may be legally sold with- 
out any breach being made in the General Association, but as 
the stationery goods are landed at Brunswick, this committee 
think thev don't come under their direction. 

Thursday, April 20, 1775. 

The committee met agreeable to adjournment. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Robert Hogg, James 
Walker, Alex. Lillington, Timothy Bloodworth, Andrew 
Ronaldson, John Colvin, Francis Clayton, James Blyth, Sam. 
Marshall, Jno. Robinson, Wm. Purviance, Sampson Moseley, 
George Moore, Jno. Ancrum, Wm. Evans, Frederick Jones. 

Mr. Wm. Wilkinson, appeared and produced a certificate 
for the proper landing of a parcel of goods consigned to him 

from Charlestown, in the schooner , Yelverton Fawkes, 

master, which being read, was deemed satisfactory by the 

AppHcation was then made by Mr. Cruden, in behalf of a 
Mr. Elliott, setting forth that he had purchased the real and 
personal estate of Marmaduke Jones, Esq., both of the prov- 
ince, and praying to have leave to import some of his house 
servants (negroes) now in Jamaica; the articles in the above 
association respecting the importation of slaves being read, and 
the subject fully debated, it was determined that said servants 
could not be imported. 

The committee then adjourned to May 20th. 

Saturday, May 20, 1775. 
The committee met according to adjournment. 
Present: Corn'l Harnett, chairman, Fran's Clayton, deputy 


chairman, George Moore, John Ashe, Sam'l Marshall, John 
Devane, John Colvin, Sampson Moseley, James Wright, Robert 
Hogg, John Hollingsworth, James Blythe, And'w Ronaldson, 
John Robeson, Thos. Bloodworth, Samuel Ashe, Fred'k Jones, 
Arch'd Maclaine, James Moore, William Robeson, William 
Ewins, William Jones, Sam'l Collier, Timothy Bloodworth, 
Alexander LilHngton, James Walker, Jno. Ancrum, Jno. 

Ordered, That this committee meet at 1 1 o'clock, in the fore- 
noon, on the 20th day of month, otherwise to be subject to 
the fine agreed to be paid by absentees. 

Resolved, That the committees of the respective counties in 
this district be invited to meet in Wilmington on the 20th of 
June next, in order to deliberate on several matters of import- 
ance that will be laid before them, respecting the general cause 
of America. 

Ordered, That the Resolve entered on the journals of this 
committee on the last meeting, respecting the application to 
the committee for liberty to Mr. Elliott to import his house 
servants, be rescinded. 

Resolved, A paper containing the reasons of the Magistrates 
of Chatham county for not signing the Association, presented 
to them by one Doctor Piles, is highly approved of by this 
committee, and is ordered to be published in the Cape Fear 

Account of money paid and received for the use of the com- 
mittee this meeting. 

Received from Jno. Ashe, 15s. Jno. Hollingsworth, 8s. 
Francis Clayton, 8s. Wm. Robeson, 8s. Wm. Jones, 8s. Jno. 
Quince, i6s for being absent, £3 3s od. Paid, to Wm. Mactier 
for 200 lbs. gunpowder, at 3s. 30. To James Harper's boy, at 
twice in part of two expresses, one to the Southward, and the 
other to the Northward, £1 los. To James Grant in full to 
this meeting, £2 8s. To expenses for paper, 2s 8d. Total, 
£37 3s 8d. 

The committee then adjourned to next meeting. 


Tuesday, June 7, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman. Arch. McLaine, 
Jno. Quince, James Walker, Jno. Ancrum, Wm. Purviance, 
Jno. Robeson, Andrew Ronaldson, James Blythe, William 
Ewins, Robt. Hogg. 

Whereas, the Continental Congress, did resolve, in the words, 
following, viz: And we further agree and associate, that we 
will have no trade, commerce, dealings, or intercourse what- 
ever, with any colony or province in North America, which 
shall not accede to, or shall hereafter violate this association, 
and whereas, the Parliament of Great Britain in pursuance of 
their plan for subjugating and distressing the colonies, have 
passed a bill for depriving our Brethren in New England, of 
the benefit of fishing on their own coasts. Therefore, resolved, 
that all exportations from this town and county, for the army 
and navy, in America, Newfoundland, or to the Northern 
colonies, from whence any supply of provisions can be had for 
those purposes, ought in the opinion of this committee, imme- 
diately to be suspended, and that it be accordingly recom- 
mended to every merchant, immediately to suspend all ex- 
portation to those places, until the Continental Congress shall 
give further orders thereon. 

Paid to James Harper his account for two expresses sent 
by him to Brunswick and New River £4 os. od. 

The committee then adjourned to the next meeting. 

At a general meeting of the several committees of the dis- 
trict of Wilmington, held at the court house in Wilmington, 
Tuesday the 20th of June, 1775. 

For the county of New Hanover. Present : Cornelius Har- 
nett, Francis Clayton, George Moore, sen., Jno. Ashe, Jno. 
Quince, Wm. Ewins, James Walker, James Blythe, John 
Devane, Wm. Jones, Long Creek, Wm. Jones, W. T., John 
Ancrum, James Moore, Robt. Hogg, Alexander Lillington. 


Wm. Robeson, Sam. Swann, Fred. Jones, sr., Jno. Colvin, 
Jno. Hollingsworth, Sam. Ashe, Geo. Merrick, And'w. Ron- 
aldson, Arch'd Maclaine, James Wright, Jno. Marshall, Samp- 
son Moseley, Thos. Devane. 

For the county of Brunswick. Rich'd Quince, Sen., Rob't 
Howe, Thos. Davis, Rob't Ellis, Rich'd Quince, Jr., Parker 
Quince, Wm. Lord, Wm. Cain, Thos. Allen, Step. Daniel, Wm. 
Davis, James Bell. 

For Bladen County. Nath'l Richardson, Thos. Owen, Walter 
Gibson, Thos. Brown, Faithful Graham. 

For Duplin. Charles Ward. 

The committee having met agreeable to summons, they pro- 
ceeded to choose a chairman; accordingly Richard Quince, 
Sr. was unanimously chosen. 

A letter from the committee of Cross Creek w^as read, and 
an answer was ordered to be wrote by the chairman to the said 

The Governor's proclamation, dated at Fort Johnston, the 
1 6th inst. was ordered to be read. 

On motion. Ordered that a committee be appointed to an- 
swer the said Proclamation; and that Rob't. Howe, Arch. 
McLaine, and Samuel Ashe be a committee for that purpose. 

On motion, for leave to Elletson to import his 

house servants from Jamaica, not exceeding six in number. 
It was carried against the motion, by a great majority. 

The committee then adjourned to lo o'clock to-morrow. 

Wednesday, lo o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

On motion, ordered, That Cornelius Harnett be appointed 
to write to the committee of Cumberland County, to secure 
the gunpov/der that may be in that county, for the use of the 

On motion, For the more effectually disarming and keeping 
the negroes in order, within the county of New Hanover. It 
was unanimously agreed, by the members of the committee, 


for said county, to appoint Patrols to search for, and take 
from negroes, all kinds of arms whatsoever, and such guns or 
other arms found with negroes, shall be delivered to the Cap- 
tain of the company of the District in which they are found, 
to be distributed by the said officers, to those of his company 
who may be in want of arms, and who are not able to pur- 
chase: and that the following persons be patrols, as follows: 

From Beauford's Ferry, to the end of Geo. Moore's dis- 
trict : Sam'l Swann, Thos. Moseley, Geo. Palmer, Henry Beau- 
ford, Wmi. Robeson, Luke Woodward. 

Burgaw : Sampson Moseley, William Moseley, Jno. Ashe, Jr. 

Black River: Geo. Robeson, Thos. Devane, Jno. Colvin, 
Thos. Corbit, Jr., Benj. Robeson, James Bloodworth. 

Welch Tract: Barnaby Fuller, Geo. McGowan, Wm. 
Wright, Martin Wells, Morgan Swinney, David Jones. 

Beatty's Swamp, to Perry's Creek; Elisha Atkinson, Bishop 
Swann, Aaron Erskins, Peter McClammy, Jno. Watkins, Ed- 
mond Moore, John Lucas. 

Perry's Creek to Baldhead : James Middleton, Chas. Morris, 
Jno. Nichols, Samuel Marshall, Joseph Nichols, Jas. Ewing, 
George Stundere, Jas. Jones. 

. Long Creek : Wm. Jones, James Ratcliff, John Kenner, Thos. 
Bloodworth, Wm. Hennepy, Jno. Marshall. 

Holly Shelter : Thos. Jones, Edward Doty, Henry WiUiams, 
Thos. Simmons, John Simmons, Joshua Sutton. 

Resolved, That the following Association formerly agreed 
by the Committee of New Hanover county, stand as the Asso- 
ciation of this Committee, and that it be recommended to the 
inhabitants of this district to sign the same as speedily as 
possible, and that the same, with this Resolution, be printed 
in the public newspaper. 


Unanimously agreed to, by the inhabitants of New Hanover county in 

North Carolina, 19th June, 1775. 

The actual commencement of hostilities against this Continent by the 
British troops, in the bloody scene, on the 19th April last, near Bos- 
ton, the increase of arbitrary impositions from a wicked and despotic 


ministry; and the dread of instigated insurrections in the colonies, are 
causes sufficient to drive an oppressed people to the use of arms. We, 
therefore, the subscribers, inhabitants of New Hanover county, having 
ourselves bound by that most sacred of all obligations, the duty of 
good citizens toward an injured country; and, thoroughly convinced 
that, under our present distressed circumstances, we shall be justified 
before God and Man, in resisting force by force, do unite ourselves 
under every tie of religion and honor and associate as a band in her 
defence against every foe; hereby solemnly engaging that whenever our 
Continental or Provincial Councils shall decree it necessary we will go 
forth and be ready to sacrifice our lives and fortunes to secure her free- 
dom and safety. This obligation to continue in full force until a recon- 
ciliation shall take place between Great Britain and America, upon 
constitutional principles, an event we most ardently desire and we will 
hold all those persons inimical to the liberties of the Colonies, who 
shall refuse to subscribe this Association. And we will in all things, 
follow the advice of our committee, respecting the purposes aforesaid, 
the preservation of peace and good order, and the safety of individual 
and private property. 

The committee to answer the Governor's Proclamation of 
the 1 6th inst. returned the following answer, which was read 
and ordered to be printed in the public papers and in hand bills. 

At a general meeting of the several committees of the Dis- 
trict of Wilmington, held at the Court House in Wilmington, 
Tuesday 20th June, 1775. 

Whereas, His Excellency, Josiah Martin, Esq., hath by Proclamation 
dated at Fort Johnston, the 16th day of June, 1775, and read this day 
in the committee, endeavored to persuade, seduce, and intimidate the 
good people of the province, from taking measures to preserve those 
rights, and that liberty, to which, as the subjects of a British King 
they have the most undoubted claim, without which, life would be but 
a futile consideration, and which, therefore, it is a duty they owe to 
themselves, their country, and posterity, by every effort, and at every 
risk, to maintain, support, and defend against any invasion or encroach- 
ment whatsoever. 

And whereas, many unconstitutional and oppressive acts of Parlia- 
ment, invasive of every right and privilege, and dangerous to the free- 
dom of America, have laid the people of this colony under the fatal 
necessity of appointing committees for the several districts, towns, and 
counties of this province, who were instructed carefully to guard 
against every encroachment upon their invaluable rights, and steadily 
oppose the operation of those unconstitutional acts, framed by a wicked 


administration entirely to destroy the freedom of America: and as 
among other measures, those committees found it absolutely necessary 
either by themselves, or by persons appointed under them, to visit the 
people, and fully explain to them the nature and dangerous tendencies 
of those acts, which the tools of administration, were by every base art, 
endeavoring to prevail upon them to submit to; and his Excellency has 
endeavored by his Proclamation, to weaken the influence, and prejudice 
the characters of those committees, and the persons appointed under 
them, by wantonly, cruelly, and unjustly, representing them as ill- 
disposed people, propagating false and scandalous reports, derogatory 
to the honor and justice of the King; and also, by other illiberal and 
scandalous imputations expressed in the said proclamation: We, then, 
the committees of the counties of New Hanover, Brunswick, Bladen, 
Duplin and Onslow, in order to permit the pernicious influence of the 
said proclamation, do, unanimously, resolve, that in our opinion, his 
excellency Josiah Martin, Esq.; hath by the said proclamation, and 
by the whole tenor of his conduct, since the unhappy disputes between 
Great Britain and the colonies, discovered himself to be an enemy 
to the happiness of this colony in particular, and to the freedom, 
rights and privileges of America in general. 

Resolved, nem. con. That the said proclamation contains 
many things asserted to be facts, which are entirely without 
foundation; particularly the methods said to have been made 
use of, in order to compel the people to sign an association 
against any invasion, intestine insurrection, or unjust encroach- 
ments upon their rights and privileges ; no person having signed 
such association but from the fullest conviction that it was 
essentially necessary to their freedom and safety; and that if 
his excellency founded such assertions upon information, it 
must have been derived from persons too weak or wicked to 
have any claim to his credit or attention. 

Resolved, nem. con. That it is the opinion of this com- 
mittee, that America owes much of its present sufferings to 
the information given by Governors and men in ofhce, to ad- 
ministration, who having themselves adopted belief from im- 
proper informants, or, in order to sacrifice to the pleasure of 
the ministry, have falsely represented that His Majesty's 
American subjects were not generally averse from the arbi- 
trary proceedings of a wicked administration, but that the 
opposition, made to such unconstitutional measures, arose from 


the influence of a few individuals upon the minds of the people, 
whom they have not failed to represent as "false, seditious 
and abandoned men" ; by these means, induing the ministry 
to believe, that the Americans would be easily brought to sub- 
mit to the cruel impositions so wickedly intended for them; 
that his excellency's proclamation is evidently calculated for 
this purpose, and is also replete with the most liberal abuse and 
scandalous imputations, tending to defame the characters of 
many respectable persons who zealously attached to the liberty 
of their country, were pursuing every laudable method to sup- 
port it. 

Resolved, nem. con. That the resolution respecting America, 
introduced by Lord North, into the British House of Parlia- 
ment, which his Excellency, in his proclamation, alludes to, 
is such a glaring affront to the common sense of the Americans, 
that it added insult to the injury it intended them: That Lord 
North, himself, when he introduced it, declared to the House, 
that he did not believe America would accept of it, but that it 
might possibly tend to divide them, and if it broke one link in 
their chain of union, it would render the enforcing his truly 
detestable acts the more easy; therefore. 

Resolved, That this was a low, base, flagitious, wicked at- 
tempt to entrap America into Slavery, and which they ought to 
reject with the contempt it deserves; that the uncandid and 
insidious manner in which his Excellency has mentioned the 
said resolution, is a poor artifice to seduce, mislead, and betray 
the ignorant and incautious into ruin and destruction, by in- 
ducing them to forfeit the inestimable blessings of freedom, 
with which nature and the British Constitution have so happily 
invested them ; and also, indisputably proves, that his Excellency 
is ready to become an instrument in the hands of administration 
to rivet those chains so wickedly forged for America. 

Resolved, nem. con. That at this alarming crisis, when the 
dearest rights and privileges of America are at stake, no con- 
fidence ought to be reposed in those, whose interest is to carry 
into execution every measure of administration, however profli- 
gate and abandoned ; and who though they are conscious those 


measures will not bear the test of enquiry and examination, will 
endeavor to gloss over the most palpable violation of truth 
with plausibility, hoping, thereby, to blind, mislead, and de- 
lude the people ; that this committee therefore, earnestly recom- 
mend it to the other committees of this province, and likewise 
to all our Brethren and suffering fellow subjects thereof, 
cautiously to guard against all those endeavors, which have 
been or shall be made to deceive them, and to treat such at- 
tempts as wicked efforts of the tools of Government calculated 
to throw this country into confusion, and by dividing to en- 
slave it. 

The committee adjourned till a meeting occasionally. Ac- 
count of money received at this committee. 

From Bladen county by the hands of Mr. Rich- 
ardson, in good bills £36 i is 2d 

One Bill counterfeit of 2 o o 

From Cornelius Harnett, for sundry subscriptions 

to purchase gunpowder 49 1 5 6 

From Wm. Jones, L. C, by the hand of R. Hogg 

for same purpose 10 o o 

From John Slingsby for same purpose 5 o o 

From Doct. Cobham for same purpose 2 10 o 

From R'd. Bradley for same purpose i o o 

£106 16 8 

Money paid for sundries. 
Paid for 350 lbs. Gunpowder in the hands of Bur- 

gwin, Humphrey & Co. pr. rec't £52 los od 

Paid John Slingsby for 50 pounds Gunpowder in 

his hands 7 10 o 

Paid Wm. Grant to pay for cleaning out the court 

house o 2 6 



At an occasional meeting of the committee, June 1775. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman ; Rob't Hogg, Arch'd 
Maclaine, James Walker, Wni. Ewins, James Blythe, Sam'l 

Mr. James Ellotson Bowen applied to this committee for 
leave to land sundry household furniture, &c., imported in the 
ship Success, Edmund Cheeseman, commander, the property 

of Ellotson, who is coming to reside in this province. 

The said Bowen being sworn upon the holy EvangeHsts of 
Almighty God; declared the list of furniture, &c., delivered to 
this committee, by him, is solely for the use of Ellotson, and 
that no part of it is, or was intended for sale, and that, if on 
opening the packages, any merchandise should be found, he 
will immediately acquaint the committee therewith, to be dis- 
posed of as they shall direct. 

Rob't Hogg, a member of this committee, desired to with- 
draw himself from further attendance, as he is going to the 
back country. 

The com.mittee then adjourned to the next occasional meeting. 

Monday, July 3, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, Jno. Robeson, Jno. An- 
crum, Wm. Ewins, James Walker, Sam'l ^Marshall, Tim. Blood- 

Whereas, it was Resolved, at a session of the Honorable 
Continental Congress, now assembled at Philadelphia, that 
Thursday the 20th July next should be held as a day of fast- 
ing and prayer. 

It was unanimously agreed to in committee met at Wilming- 
ton, that the humble observance of that day should be warmly 
inculcated on every inhabitant of this province and that the fol- 
lowing resolve of the Honorable Continental Congress should 
be made public. 


Ordered, That two hundred copies of the said resolve be 
printed in hand bills and distributed through this colony. 

On motion, ordered, That the chairman of the committee 
write to Allen McDonald, of Cumberland county, to know 
from himself respecting the reports that circulate of his having 
an intention to raise troops to support the arbitrary measures 
of the ministry against the Americans, in this colony; and 
whether he had not made an offer of his services to Governor 
Martin for that purpose. 

Ordered, That the following agreement be put up at the 
court house. 

Whereas, several members of the Wilmington committee 
seem to find it inconvenient to give their attendance with that 
punctuality that the present exigence of affairs now demands, 
and as it has been the practice of all the Northern colonies 
since American politics have been drawing towards their pres- 
ent crisis, to re-elect their committee ; for these reasons, 
and that the people may have an opportunity of confirming 
or annulling their former choice, it has been unanimously 
agreed to in committee held this day at Wilmington, to make 
the above public, and request the attendance of all the in- 
habitants qualified to vote, for members of assembly, to meet 
at the Court house on Thursday next, and elect a committee 
to represent said town and as it has been thought that the 
present committee is not sufficiently numerous, it is recom- 
mended to the electors to take the augmentation of the future 
one into consideration. 

The committee then adjourned till the next occasional 

Wednesday, July 5, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, James Walker, Jno. An- 
crum, Sam'l Ashe, Jno. Ashe, James Blythe, Jno. Quince, Wm. 


Ewins, Tim. Bloodworth, Wm. Purviance, Wm. Jones, Sam'l 
Swann, Joel Parish, An. Ronaldson. 

A letter of the 27th June last, was received from the com- 
mittee of intelligence, in Charlestown, S. C, by Captain Charles 
Cotesworth Pinkney, and read this day, requesting that this 
committee may give proper countenance to Captain Pinkney 
and such officers as accompany him, being sent with an inten- 
tion to raise men for the defense of American liberty. 

Resolved, therefore. That the chairman of this committee 
be empowered to write to the committees of the several counties 
and towns in this province, earnestly recommending aid and 
assistance to the officers from South Carolina, in raising such 
numbers of men as may be necessary to complete their levies 
now raising for the common defence and support of the liberties 
of America, and to express the sense this committee has of the 
noble and patriotic conduct of our sister colony in the common 

Qn motion, Resolved, That the exportation of all kinds of 
provision to the island of Nantucket, should be stopped until 
further orders by the Continental Congress, and it is recom- 
mended to the merchants of this port to observe the same. 

John Thally was sent for and appeared before this com- 
mittee, when he solemnly declared that he never had by any 
means whatsoever endeavored to ahenate any person or per- 
sons from their duty in support of the general cause; and de- 
sired an advertisement which he signed to be put in the 

The committee then adjourned till next occasional meeting. 

Thursday, July 6, 1775. 

At an election for committee men, for the town of Wilming- 
ton, agreeable to a resolve of the late committee on Monday 
the 3d inst., the following persons were duly elected to repre- 
sent the said town: 

CorneHus Harnett, Francis Clayton, Archibald Alaclaine, 


Will. Hooper, James Walker, Jno. Ancrum, Jno. Quince, Jno. 
Robeson, Wm. Purviance, Wm. Ewins, A. Ronaldson, James 
Blythe, Peter Mallett, Wm. Wilkinson, Adam Boyd, Hy 
Toonier, James Tate,* Jno. DuBois, John Forster, Doc't Jas. 
Geekie, Frans. Brice, Caleb Grainger, Wm. Campbell. 

Friday, July 7, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present, Cornelius Harnett, Francis Clayton, Archibald Mac- 
laine, James Walker, Jno. Ancrum, Jno. Quince, Jno. Robeson, 
Wm. Ewins, A. Ronaldson, Peter Malett, Wm. Wilkinson, 
Adam Boyd,"!- Hy. Toomer, Jas. Tate, Jno. DuBois, Jno. 
Forster, Jas. Geekie, Francis Brice, Caleb Grainger, Wm. 
Campbell, Wm. Miller. 

The new committee having met agreeable to a summons, 
proceeded to choose a chairman and deputy chairman. 

Accordingly Cornelius Harnett, Esq, was unanimously chosen 
chairman, and Mr. Francis Clayton, deputy chairman. 

On motion. Resolved, unanimously, as the opinion of this 
committee, that the immediate calling of a provincial conven- 
tion is a measure absolutely necessary, and that the chairman 
do recommend the same to Samuel Johnston, Esq. 

On motion, Resolved, unanimously, that every white man, 
capable of bearing arms, resident in Wilmington, shall, on or 
before Monday, the loth instant, enroll himself in one of the 
two companies there, and that every man of the above descrip- 
tion, who has not signed the association, apply to the sub- 
scriber, in whose possession for that purpose it is, and sub- 
scribe the same. A neglect of the above will be considered by 
the committee as a declaration of intentions inimical to the 
common cause of America; and the committee further direct 
that no master shall prevent his apprenticed servants from 
complying with the resolution — to be signed by the secretary. 

* Preacher and teacher of classical school in 1760. 

t Editor of the Cape Fear Mercury, and later Lieutenant and Chaplain in the Continen- 
tal Line, and Brigade Chaplain Society of the Cincinnati after the Revolution. 


On motion, Ordered, that Cornelius Harnett, Arch'd Mac- 
laine, Francis Clayton, Adam Boyd, and John Ancrum, be a 
committee of correspondence till the next monthly meeting 
©f the committee for the town and county. 

On motion, Ordered, that the committee of Intelligence 
draw up a resolution to hold James Hepburn up to the public, 
as inimical to the liberties of his country and the common 
cause of America, which is as follows : 

Whereas, this committee hath received information from 
undoubted authority, that James Hepburn of Cumberland 
county, attorney at law, did lately apply to the committee of 
that county, for orders to raise a company "under the Militia 
law, to preserve the independence of the subjects, and the 
dignity of the Government," and afterwards declared that, 
had the application met with success, the company was in- 
tended to act against the American cause. And, whereas, oath 
hath this day been made by James Clardy, of Bladen county, 
that the said James Hepburn, in a conversation with the said 
Clardy, after inquiring what officers had been chosen for the 
county of Bladen, and asking if the said Clardy was not a com- 
mittee-man, said, in derision, that these were fine times when 
the country was to be governed by committees ; and in order 
to intimidate the said James Clardy, and other the good people 
of this province, falsely and maliciously asserted that there 
were 50.000 Russians in his Majesty's pay, and that they had 
embarked, or were to embark immediately, in order to subdue 
the Americans ; and whereas, it is notorious that the said James 
Hepburn, hath very lately been with Governor Martin at Fort 
Johnston, in company with some gentlemen lately settled in 
this province, as it is said, and universally believed, to offer 
their services to the said Governor, and to obtain his orders 
for raising mercenaries to suppress the noblest struggles of 
insulted liberty. It is, therefore. 

Resolved, unanimously, That the said James Hepburn, is a 
false, scandalous, and seditious incendiary, who, destitute of 


property and influence, as he is of principle, basely and trait- 
orously endeavors to make himself conspicuous in favor of 
tyranny and oppression, in hopes by violating the primary and 
fundamental laws of nature and the British constitution to 
raise a fortune to his family upon the subversion of liberty, 
and the destruction of his country. 

Ordered, that this Resolve, and this preamble upon which it 
is founded, be published ; in order that the friends to American 
Liberty may avoid all dealings and intercourse with such a 
wicked and detestable character. 

The committee then adjourned till the next occasional 

Wednesday, July 12, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee ; Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Archibald Maclaine, James Walker, Caleb 
Grainger, William Campbell, William Ewins, Adam Boyd, Dr. 
Geekie, Jno. Ancrum, Peter Mallett, Andrew Ronaldson, Wil- 
liam Purviance, Henry Toomer, James Blythe, Timothy Blood- 
worth, John Dubois, John Robeson. 

On motion, ordered, that it is the opinion of this committee, 
a list of all the white male inhabitants of this town, from 15 
to 60 years of age, should be taken, and that John Dubois, 
Jas. Blythe, Henry Toomer and Andrew Ronaldson, take such 
a list, and make return to this committee, or to the Secretary, 
as soon as possible. Also, a list of all the free mulattos and 
negroes in the said town. 

The committee then adjourned till the next meeting. 

Saturday, July 15, 1775. 
At an occasional meeting of the committee; Cornelius Har- 
nett, chairman, John Robeson, Wm. Wilkinson, John Forster, 
Wm. Campbell, Arch'd Maclaine, Wm. Purviance, Wm. Ewins, 
Timothy Bloodworth, James Blythe, Peter Mallett, Henry 
Toomer, James Geekie. 


Resolved, unanimously, That a reinforcement of as many 
men as will voluntarily turn out, be immediately dispatched to 
join Colonel Howe who is now on his way to Fort Johnston 
and that it be recommended to the Captains of the Independent 
and Artillery companies in Wilmington, and the officers of 
sevteral companies in this county, to muster their men, and 
immediately equip those who are willing to go on that service. 

The committee then adjourned to the next meeting. 

Thursday, July 20, 1775. 

At a monthly meeting of the committee for the town of Wil- 
mington, and county of New Hanover. 

Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, deputy chair- 
man, Fred'k Jones, Sr., Alexander Lillington, Wm. Wilkinson, 
John Forster, Jno. Colvin, Jno. Hollingsworth, Thos. Devane, 
Jno. Devane, Henry Toomer, Jno. Ashe, Sam'l Ashe, James 
Geekie, Jno. Ancrum, James Moore, Wm. Purviance, Francis 
Brice, Adam Boyd, Archibald Maclaine, James Tate, Wm. 
Campbell, Andrew Ronaldson, Peter Mallette, Jno. Robeson, 
James Blythe, Sam. Swann, Wm. Jones, W. T., Wm. Jones, 
L. C, Joel Parish, Jas. Walker, Wm. Ewins, Thos. Bloodworth. 

Visiting Members. 

From Cumberland county. — Farquier Campbell, Rob. Coch- 

From Duplin county. — James Moore, Jno. James, Alex. 

From Onslow county. — Jno. Ashe and Jno. Gibbs. 

From Bladen county. — Thos. Robeson, Thos. Owen, Walter 
Gibson, Wm. Salter, James Council, Evan Ellis, Peter Robeson, 
Rob. Stuart, James Richardson, Jno. King, James White, Rob. 
Wells, Thomas Brown, Wm. Stuart. 

Joseph Preston, being brought before the committee and ex- 
amined, declared on oath, that it was a common report that 
John Collett, commander at Fort Johnson, had given encourage- 

130 HISTORY OP* ne:w hanove:r county. 

ment to negroes to elope from their masters and promised to 
protect them. 

The committee then adjourned to 7 o'clock to-morrow. 

Friday, July 21st, 1775. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present as before. 

On motion ordered, That the Committee of Intelligence of 
this town, write to the committee of Cumberland and congrat- 
ulate them on the favorable disposition of their committee and 
county, to support the common cause of America. 

On motion. Resolved, That application be made to Mr. 
Samuel Campbell for the muskets he has in his possession, the 
property of the public, in order that they may be lodged with 
the secretary of this committee, to be distributed to those who 
may be in want of arms. 

This committee having taken in consideration an act of the 
British Parliament for restraining the trade of the Colonies of 
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent 
and Sussex on the Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and South 
Carolina, to Great Britain, Ireland and the British West 
Indies, which is to take place this day; it is 

Resolved, unanimously, that the exception of this colony, 
and some others out of the said act, is a base and mean artifice, 
to seduce them into a desertion of the common cause of 

Resolved, that we will not accept of the advantages insidi- 
ously thrown out by the said act, but will adhere strictly to 
such plans as have been, and shall be, entered into by the honor- 
able Continental Congress ; so as to keep up a perfect unanimity 
with our sister colonies. 

The inhabitants of Poole (a seaport in the British Channel) 
having manifested themselves, not only inimical to America; 
but lost to every sense of honor and humanity, by petitioning 
Parliament to restrain the New England fisheries; by which 

HISTORY o^ Ni:w hanove:r county. 131 

iniquitous act, the virtuous inhabitants of those colonies, are 
cruelly deprived of the means of procuring a subsistence ; and 
rendered almost dependent on the bounty of the neighbors; in 
testimony of our resentment of a conduct so injurious to our 
fellow citizens, and so disgraceful to human nature ; we unan- 
imously resolve, not to freight, or in any manner employ any 
shipping belonging to that town ; and that we will not carry 
on any commercial intercourse with the selfish people of Poole. 
Whereas, it appeared, upon incontestible evidence, that John 
Collett, commander of Fort Johnston, was preparing the said 
fort (under the auspices of Governor Martin) for the recep- 
tion of a promised reinforcement, which was to be employed in 
reducing the good people in this province to a slavish sub- 
mission to the will of a wicked and tyrannic minister, and for 
this diabolical purpose, had collected several abandoned profli- 
gates, whose crimes had rendered them unworthy of civil 
society; and that the said commander, had wantonly detained 
vessels, applying for bills of health, thereby defeating the salu- 
tary purposes for which the Fort had been established and con- 
tinued, had threatened vengeance against magistrates, whose 
official opinion he chose to disapprove, had set at defiance the 
high sheriff of the county in the execution of his office, and 
treated the King's writs, when served on him for just debts, 
(which both as a soldier and a subject, it was his duty to obey) 
with the shameful contempt of wiping his b — k s — de with 
them, had with the most unparalled injustice, detained and em- 
bezzled a large quantity of goods, which having been wrecked 
near the fort, had the highest claim to his attention and care, 
for the benefit of the sufferers ; in whose behalf, many and re- 
peated applications had been legally made, in vain, to the said 
commander, had contrary to every principle of honor and 
honesty, most unwarrantably seized, by force, a quantity of 
corn, the private property of an individual; an act of robbery, 
the more inexcusable, as provisions were never withheld from 
him, whenever he would pay for them, had basely encouraged 
slaves from their masters, paid and employed them, and de- 


dared openly, that he would excite them to an insurrection; 
it also appeared that the said John Collett, had further declared, 
that, as soon as the expected reinforcements should arrive, the 
King's standard would be erected, and that, to it should be in- 
vited all those (as well slaves as others) who were base enough 
to take up arms against their country. 

The Committee of New Hanover and Wilmington, having 
taken these things into consideration, judged it might be of 
the most pernicious consequences to the people at large, if 
the said John Collett should be suffered to remain in the fort, 
as he might thereby have opportunity of carrying his iniquitous 
schemes into execution. This opinion, having been communi- 
cated to the officers, and the committees of some neighboring 
counties, a great many volunteers were immediately collected; 
a party of whom reached Brunswick, when accounts were re- 
ceived, that the said commander had carried oi¥ all the small 
arms, ammunition and part of the artillery, (the property of 
this Province) together with his furniture, on board a trans- 
port, hired for that purpose, there to remain until the rein- 
forcement should arrive, and then again take possession of the 
fort ; the original design being thus frustrated, but the different 
detachments having met at Brunswick, about 500 men marched 
to the fort, and burnt and destroyed all the houses, &c., in and 
about the same; demolished, as far as they could, the back 
part of the fortification, and effectually dislodged that atrocious 

Resolved, therefore, that the thanks of the committee be 
given to the officers and soldiers who, with such ready alacrity, 
gave their attendance to effect a matter of so much real im- 
portance to the public. 

The committee then adjourned to the next meeting. 

Monday, July 31, 1775. 
At an occasional meeting of the committee. 
Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Henry Toomer, Wm. Purviance, James 


BIythe, Wm. Ewins, Wm. Wilkinson, Jno. Forster, Tim. 
Bloodworth, Wm. Campbell, Jno. Ancrum, Peter Mallett, 
Andw. Ronaldson, Jno. DuBois, Adam Boyd. 

The chairman presented to the committee, a letter from Mr. 
Rowan, inclosing one of the Governor's to a certain Lieu't 
Col. James Cotton; it was. 

Resolved, unanimously. That the committee approve of Mr. 
Rowan's conduct; and that the committee of intelligence be 
requested to write to him on the subject. 

Mr. Boyd read a letter from the Governor, requesting him to 
print an account of a late engagement at Bunker's Hill, between 
the King's troops and provincials ; craved their opinion respect- 
ing the above application ; it was 

Resolved, unanimously. That he should acquaint the Gover- 
nor, that the committee would not admit the separate publi- 
cation in hand bills ; but that if it was agreeable to him, it might 
be printed in the Mercury. 

Whereas, we have learned from undoubted authority, that 
Governor Martin intends going into the back country, to col- 
lect a number of men for the purpose of disturbing the in- 
ternal peace of this province. 

Resolved, that the Governor's going into the back country 
may be of great prejudice to this province, as it is in all 
probability he intends kindling the flames of a civil war, and 
that the committees of the different counties should be advised 
of his intentions and requested to keep a strict lookout, and, if 
possible, arrest him in his progress. 

The committee then adjourned to the next meeting. 

Tuesday, August 8, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Francis Clayton, 
deputy chairman, Arch'd McLaine, James Geekie, John Robe- 
son, John DuBois, Francis Brice, Wm. Ewins, Samuel Collier, 
Timothy Bloodworth, John Hollingsworth, Sampson Moseley, 

134 HISTORY o'^ NEW hanove:r county. 

Thos. Nixon, John Campbell, Caleb Grainger, Andrew Ronald- 
son, Adam Boyd, William Purviance, A. Lillington, P. IMallett, 
James Tate, Samuel Ashe, John Forster, William Wilkinson, 
Wm. Campbell. 

A letter from James Hepburn was received, with some others, 
and read to this committee, wherein he begs to be restored 
again to the favor of the public. 

Ordered, that James Hepburn transmit to this committee, 
a deposition certified by a magistrate, respecting the matters 
with which he stands charged, a recantation of his conversation 
with James Clardy, and sign the Continental Association. 

At an election held this day for additional delegates for this 
town and county, to represent them in general convention to 
be held at Hillsborough, on the 20th inst. Arch'd. ^laclaine, 
esq., for the town, and Wm. Hooper, Alex. Lillington and 
James Moore, esq., for the county, were duly elected by the 
freeholders, as additional delegates, with Cornelius Harnett, 
esq. for the town, George Aloore, John Ashe and Samuel x\she, 
esqrs. for the county, chosen on a former election, to represent 
them in the aforesaid convention. 

The committee then adjourned to the next meeting. 

Wednesday, Aug. 9, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present : Cornelius Harnett, chairman, Archibald jMaclaine, 
John Robeson, James Geekie, John Forster, Adam Boyd, Peter 
Mallett, Francis Brice, Jno. DuBois, Tim. Bloodworth, Thos. 
Bloodworth, Henry Toomer, Jas. Blythe, Wm. Purviance, Jno. 
Ancrum, Jas. Tate. 

Whereas, the late Continental Congress, in the fourth article 
of their association, for themselves and their constituents, agree 
that the earnest desire they had, not to injure their fellow sub- 
jects in Great Britain, Ireland and the West Indies, induced 
them to suspend a non-exportation, until the loth day of Sep- 


tember, 1775; at which time, if the said acts, and parts of acts 
of the British Parhament thereinafter mentioned, should not 
be repealed; they would not directly or indirectly export any 
commodity whatsoever, to Great Britain, Ireland or the West 
Indies, except rice, to Europe. And, whereas, information hath 
been made to the committee, that several merchants and traders, 
in the town of Wilmington, understand the said article, in this 
sense, that is to say, that if any ship or vessel should before 
the said loth day of Sep., begin to load, time and liberty would 
be allowed to complete the loading, at any time, however, ex- 
tended, after the said loth day of September, which would be 
a flagrant infraction of the said Association. 

Resolved, therefore. That no ship or vessel, on any pretence 
whatever, shall take on board any merchandise or commodities 
from and after the loth day of September next ; nor shall any 
person or persons presume to ship any goods, wares, or mer- 
chandise, on board of any ship or vessel, from and after the 
said loth day of September, on pain of the displeasure of the 

Friday, August nth, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present: Cor- 
nelius Harnett, chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, Peter Mallet, Henry 
Toomer, Wm. Purviance, Adam Boyd, Thos. Devane, Timothy 
Bloodworth, Wm. Campbell, John Forster, James Geekie, Jno. 
DuBois, Wm. Wilkinson, Francis Brice, James Blythe, John 

On application made by John Gifford, from the committee 
of Wake, for a supply of gunpowder. 

Ordered, that the committee of intelligence write to the 
committee of Wake, and acquaint them of our inability to 
supply them with gunpowder at this time : that whenever we 
have any to spare they may depend on our assistance. 

Whereas, this committee has transmitted to the committee of 
Cumberland, sundry papers that were thought necessary to be 


kept secret, and at the same time enclosed with them the opinion 
of this committee and the oath of secrecy, which this com- 
mittee have reason to beheve they have neglected, by which 
means the contents of the said papers have transpired : 

Resolved therefore, that this committee can not for the future 
transmit to the committee of Cumberland, any papers of a 
secret nature, until we are satisfied that the oath of secrecy has 
been taken by that committee, and that the committee of intelli- 
gence write to them accordingly. 

Resolved, That Messrs. John Robeson, Wm. Campbell, and 
Wm. Wilkinson, be appointed to collect and take into their pos- 
session, all carriage guns and swivels, whether the property 
of the public or of private persons, for which they are to give 
such sufficient receipts as are necessary. 

Thursday, August 17, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present Francis 
Clayton Deputy Chairman, Wm. Campbell, John DuBois, 
Henry Toomer, Caleb Grainger, John Forster, Wm. Wilkinson, 
Wm. Ewans, James Blythe, Saml. Marshall, James Tate, Wil- 
liam Purviance, John Ancrum, Peter Mallett, Francis Brice, 
Andrew Ronaldson. 

On intelligence from Richard Quince, esq., concerning a 
quantity of gunpowder being sold by a negro in this town; 
on examination of the parties it appears that one Peter Brown 
must have been privy to this affair; and that a negro called 
Nicholas, was the negro who sold the powder. 

Resolved, That the said Peter Brown shall give security 
for his appearance, when called on by this committee, when he 
produced William Miller, and Thomas Brown as his securities ; 
and the said Peter Brown became bound for his appearance in 
the penal sum of £50, and each of his securities in the sum 
of £25, proc. money to be forfeited on failure of the said 
Brown's appearance when called upon by this committee. 

Resolved, That the said negro (Nicholas) be sent to gaol 
till the examination of Sparrow. 


Thursday afternoon, August 17, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present Francis 
Clayton Dep. Chairman, Wm. Campbell, John DuBois, Henry 
Toomer, Caleb Grainger, John Forster, Will. Wilkinson, Wm. 
Ewins, James Blythe, Samuel Marshall, James Tate, Peter 
Mallett, John Ancrum, Wm. Purviance, Francis Brice, An- 
drew Ronaldson. 

A letter was produced from Richard Quince intimating some 
alarming information made in Brunswick, relative to the 
Governors wicked intentions. Resolved, that Mr. J. Ancrum 
and ]\Ir. j. DuBois, wait on the committee at Brunswick to 
procure a certain account of that information that proves 
satisfactory to this committee — that a letter be wrote to the 
Brunswick Committee, informing them that Mr. Ancrum and 
Mr. DuBois were sent to get the account or information on 
oath, till which was done, this committee could not comply 
with the request of sending down men for the protection and 
safety of the inhabitants of Brunswick, as the intelligence 
from thence was so imperfect that it was impossible to act with 
propriety. The committee then adjourned. 

Friday morning, August 18, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee : Present Francis 
Clayton Dep. Chairman, W^m. Purviance, James Tate, Thos. 
Bloodworth, James Blythe, Timothy Bloodworth, Jno. Robeson, 
Andrew Ronaldson, Wm. Ewins, Wm. W^ilkinson, John For- 
ster, Wm. Campbell, James Walker, Peter ]\Iallett, Francis 
Brice, Caleb Grainger, Henry Toomer. 

Several letters were received that had been taken from an 
express, sent by his Excellency to the back country with dis- 
patches : those of any importance were taken to the Congress by 
Col. James Aloore. 

A letter was read from the Governor to Dr. Cobham, desir- 
ing he would send down some particular medicines. Resolved, 


That Dr. Cobham be desired not to send the medicines, which 
he readily agreed to on being called into committee. Mr. 
Samuel Campbell waited on this committee and produced an 
instrument of Writing, styled by the Governor a Proclamation : 
the said piece was read by Fran's Clayton after which it was 
ordered to be kept in the possession of the committee. The 
committee then adjourned. 

Friday afternoon, 3 o'clock. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee : present Francis 
Clayton, Dep. Chairman, Will. Purviance, James Tate, Thomas 
Bloodworth, James Blythe, And'r Rolandson, Timothy Blood- 
worth, John Robeson, Wm. Ewins, John DuBois, Will Wilkin- 
son, John Forster, Wm. Campbell, James Walker, Peter Mal- 
lett, Francis Brice, Caleb Grainger, Henry Toomer, John An- 
crum. On motion, Ordered, that Lt. Col. Cotton be sent for, 
and escorted here by a guard (for that purpose) who attended 

After his examination he was remanded to confinement. Mr. 
Williams, Sen'r — was then ordered in and attended — passed ex- 
amination, and remanded back to confinement. 

On motion. Ordered, that Mr. Clayton write to Bladen a 
letter of thanks to that committee for apprehending the above 

The committee adjourned till 9 o'clock to-morrow morning. 

Saturday Morning, 9 o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment. Present 
Francis Clayton Deputy Chairman, John Forster, Peter Mal- 
lett, A. Ronaldson, James Blythe, Timothy Bloodworth, John 
Ancrum, Thomas Bloodworth, Wm. Campbell, John DuBois, 
Wm. Ewins, John Robeson, Francis Brice, James Walker, 
Wm. Wilkinson, Henry Toomer. 

Mr. Cotton, Mr. Samuel Williams, and his son Jacob Wil- 


lianis, being ordered before the committee they all, and volun- 
tarily of their own accord, signed the association entered into 
by the inhabitants of this country, and readily took an oath 
drawn up by the deputy chairman. 

The said James Cotton, Sam'l and Jacob Williams, very 
cheerfully consented to go to the Congress, to be held at Hills- 
boro on the 21 inst., there to pass whatever examination may 
be thought proper by the said Congress. 

Ordered, That they be attended by a few gentlemen who are 
going to Hillsborough : and that the Deputy Chairman write 
to the Congress, giving an account of these men since they 
were taken in Bladen county. 

Captain Thomas Fitch appeared before the committee and 
swore on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, that the 
cargo he had on board the Schooner Swallow, was not intended, 
nor should not be landed, at any port except in some of the 
West India islands ; and that he is to proceed to Hispaniola, 
and from thence to Jamaica. 

Ordered that the certificate produced by Captain Fitch from 
Humphrey and Jewkes be filed among the committee papers. 

Saturday evening, 8 o'clock. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee ; Present Francis 
Clayton Dep. Chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, James Blythe, Wm. 
Ewins, Henry Toomer, John DuBois, Jno. Forster, Francis 
Brice, Wm. Campbell, John Ancrum, Peter Mallett. 

Ordered, That Mr. Cotton and the two Williams be allowed 
to go up to the convention by way of X Creek. 

The committee then adjourned. 

Monday, August 21, 1775. 

At a meeting of the Committee ; Present Francis Clayton 
Dep. Chairman, Wm. Purviance, Fred'k Jones, Sampson Mose- 


ley, Wm. Campbell, J. Hollingsworth, Sam'l Marshall, And'w 
Rolandson, Timothy Bloodworth, Thomas Nixon, W. Wilkin- 
son, Henry Toomer, Jno. Forster, John DuBois, John Robe- 
son, Francis Brice, Sam'l Swann, Peter Mallett, James Tate. 

On motion made whether Captain Maclean, (who has shown 
himself inimical to the liberties of America,) should not in a 
limited time depart this provnce. 

Resolved, That if Captain Maclean does not come into this 
committee and make a recantation of his sentiments in regard 
to America within 30 days from this date that he be ordered 
to depart this province. 

October 6, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present Cor- 
nelius Harnett Chairman, Timothy Bloodworth, A. Lillington, 
John Devane, John Hollingsworth, James Moore, A. Roland- 
son, Wm. Wilkinson, Wm. Ewins, Wm. Campbell, Jno. An- 
crum, Wm. Purviance, Adam Boyd, Caleb Grainger. 

Whereas it appears to this committee that several vessels, 
landed and cleared out by the officers of His Majesty's cus- 
toms, are still remaining in this river. 

Resolved, That every vessel now in the river of Cape Fear 
loaded and cleared out as above (before the loth day of Sept. 
last), do proceed on their respective voyages within ten days 
from this date. 

It appears to this committee that Moses Buchanan is con- 
fined in the county gaol, by virtue of the writ served on him 
(since the loth day of September last,) at the suit of Robert 
Bannerman contrary to a resolve of the Congress of this 
colony, lately held at Hillsborough, prohibiting the commence- 
ment of any civil suite without the consent of a committee. 

Ordered, That in pursuance of such resolve the said Moses 
Buchanan be discharged from his confinement. 


October ii, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the Committee. Present, John 
Ancrum in the chair, A. Maclaine, James Geekie, John Forster, 
Wm. Ewins, P. Mallett, A. Rolandson, Andw. Boyd. 

Col. James Moore having applied to this committee for 150 
lbs. of gunpowder and 6 cwt. of lead or ball for the use of the 
troops under his command, ordered that the above quantity 
of ammunition be delivered to Col. Moore, on his order as he 
may have occasion for the same. 

Mr. Daniel Southerland applied for leave to import a cargo 
of salt from the West Indies, whereupon the question being 
put this committee declined giving any opinion, and referred it 
to the committee of safety. 

Monday, October 16, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee : Present John 
Ancrum in the chair, A. Maclaine, P. Mallett, Wm. Ewans, 
F. Brice, J. Forster, Wm. Williamson, A. Rolandson, James 

On application from Capt. McGill, of the sloop Ranger, for 
permission to clear out his sloop in ballast. Ordered, that Capt. 
McGill have leave to clear out for the port of New York only, 
and that he be allowed to take on board any quantity of deer 
skins he may choose. Grant paid 8s. 

On application from Alex. Hostler, Ordered, that the paper 
imported in Capt. Weir's vessel, and now in the hands of Adam 
Boyd, be sold at vendue for the use of the Press only, or be 
immediately delivered to A. Hostler to be re-shipped. 

Ordered, that Francis Brice be appointed secretary to this 
committee, during the absence of Thomas Craike. 

Wilmington, Tuesday, October 17, 1775. 
Present Jno. Ashe, Jno. Devane, Wm. Jones, Sr., Wm. Jones, 
Jr., Charles Hollingsworth, Timothy Bloodworth. 


Ordered, That Francis Brice be appointed to keep the Poll 
for the election of delegates, and appointment of committee- 
men for the county. 

At an election this day, agreeable to a Resolve of the late 
Congress of this Colony, for the appointment of Delegates to 
represent this tow^n and county in Congress the ensuing year; 
Cornelius Harnett, Esqr., was duly elected as a delegate to 
represent this town; and Sam'l Ashe, John Ashe, Sampson 
Moseley, John Hollingsworth and John Devane, Esqr., were 
also duly elected to represent the county. The committee for 
the town and county were also nominated agreeable to a re- 
solve of the said Congress. 

Those for the town wxre, John Ancrum, Jas. Walker, Jno. 
Quince, Peter Mallett, Wm. Campbell, Sam. Campbell, Wm. 
Ewins, Henry Toomer, Jno. Slingsby, Wm. Wilkinson, John 
Forster, Jas. Geekie, John Robeson, Chas. Jewkes, Andrew 

Wednesday, October 25, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the new committee. Present 
John Ancrum, Charles Jewkes, John Slingsby, Peter Mallett, 
Henry Toomer, Wm. Campbell, James Geekie, John Forster, 
Wm. Ewins. 

The committee proceeded to choose a chairman and deputy 
chairman; the question being put, John Ancrum was chosen 
as chairman, and Jas. Walker, deputy chairman. 

Samuel Campbell appeared, and declined serving as a com- 
mitteeman, as it would be very inconvenient for him to attend. 
Andrew Ronaldson also declined serving, as he was not allowed 
to be a freeholder at the election, therefore, had no right to be 
a committeeman. The committee nominated, in their room, 
John DuBois and John Kirkwood, who being sent for readily 
agreed to serve in committee. 

This committee then proceeded to appoint a Committee on 
Secrecy and Correspondence. John Ancrum, Jas. Walker, Wm. 


Campbell, Charles Jewkes, John Slingsby, John DuBois, and 
Peter Mallett, were accordingly nominated. 

On motion, Ordered, that the paper now in the hands of 
Adam Boyd, be sold to-morrow morning at ii o'clock; that 
J. Slingsby, Wm. Campbell and Peter Mallett see that the 
same is sold. Also, Ordered, that one ream of paper be pur- 
chased for the use of this committee only. 

Monday, October 30, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present John 
Ancrum, chairman, John Slingsby, John Forster, John Kirk- 
wood, James Geekie, Wm. Wilkinson, John DuBois, Wm. 
Ewins, and Henry Toomer. 

On motion ordered, that John Ancrum, John DuBois, John 
Kirkwood, and James Geekie, Wm. Wilkinson and William 
Campbell take a list of the inhabitants of Wilmington, agree- 
able to a resolve of the Congress of this Colony, lately held at 
Hillsborough ; and that they make a return of the same at the 
next meeting of this committee. 

Friday, November 3, 1775. 

On application from Mr. John Hunt, the committee met. 
Present John Ancrum, chairman, Peter Mallett, John Slingsby, 
Wm. Wilkinson, John Forster, John DuBois, Wm. Ewins, 
Henry Toomer. 

Mr. John Hunt came in, and produced two letters to his 
Excellency, recommending said Hunt as Register for Gran- 
ville county; and the Rev. Mr. Wm. McKenzie as a clergyman 
for said county. On examination of John Hunt, on oath ; found 
he had no other papers for the Governor; therefore, 

Ordered, That Mr. John Hunt be allowed to go down to 
His Excellency on board the Crusier, to obtain such papers 
from the Governor that he may have occasion for, relative to 
the Register's Office; and that on his return he shall produce 


what papers he may receive from the Governor to this com- 
mittee. Grant was paid. 

On application from Mr. Peter Mallett, Ordered, That if 
Adam Boyd does not pay P. Mallett (on Monday next or be- 
fore) for the paper sold some days ago, (as well as what paper 
A. Boyd has in his hands,) that P. Mallett have leave to dis- 
pose of the same on Tuesday next; or any time after, to such 
persons who may choose to purchase it. 

Monday, November 13, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. Present : John 
Ancrum, chairman, Charles Jewkes, John Forster, James 
Geekie, Wm. Wilkinson, Henry Toomer, John Kirkwood. 

Mr. Chairman produced a letter from Rich'd Quince, Esq., 
of Brunswick, purporting that a man of war and a ship with 
transports, (or troops) were arrived at Fort Johnston. 

On reading the above letter, it was ordered, that Messrs. 
Forster, Mallett, Wilkinson and Jewkes, go round the town, 
and examine the arms that may be in each family ; after reserv- 
ing one gun for each white man that may be in the house, the 
remainder shall be valued by the above gentlemen, and a re- 
ceipt given for them, mentioning their value. Those who have 
new guns to dispose of, shall be allowed three for one; (in 
order to obtain an immediate supply of arms on this immergent 
occasion) a receipt shall also be given for such guns on account 
of the public, and for the use of the first regiment under the 
command of Col. James Moore. 

On application from Capt. John Walker, Ordered, that 56 
pounds of gunpowder and 221 pounds of lead, be immediately 
delivered to Capt. Walker, to be sent to the Camps at Ber- 
nard's Creek, and that Captain Walker's receipt be taken for the 


Wednesday, November 15th, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting- of the committee. Present : John 
Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, John DuBois, Henry 
Toomer, John Forster, Wm. Ewins, James Geekie, John Kirk- 
wood, Charles Jewkes. 

Mr. Timothy Bloodworth came in with a message from the 
county committee, desiring that both the committees should be 
united; and that this committee send a member to the next 
meeting of the county committee to acquaint them with the 
opinion of this committee relative to their uniting. 

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that for 
the good order and safety of the county and town, a union 
should be effected between the two committees ; Ordered, That 
all the members of this committee, attend at the next meeting 
of the county committee, to acquaint them with the opinion of 
this committee. 

Ordered, That notice be given to the white male inhabitants 
to meet on Monday next, at 10 o'clock, in the forenoon, at the 
Court House, to form themselves into companies of militia, 
agreeable to a resolve of the Congress lately held at Hills- 
borough ; and that it be recommended to the inhabitants to have 
the officers chosen to each respective company on the same day. 

Thursday, 16, 1775. 

Whereas, the committee inadvertently nominated John Du- 
Bois and John Kirkwood as members of this committee, in 
the room of Samuel Campbell and Andrew Ronaldson, who 
declined serving in committee, instead of giving notice to the 
Freeholders to choose other persons in their place; Resolved, 
that the said nomination be void, and that the order relative 
thereto be rescinded ; and as many members have since declined 

Ordered, That the secretary issue notice thereof to the Free- 
holders, summoning them to meet at the Court House, to- 



morrow morning, at 10 o'clock, to appoint others in the place 
of those who declined. 

Friday, November 17, 1775. 
Agreeable to the notice of yesterday the Freeholders met at 
the Court House, and elected Cornelius Harnett, Arch'd Mac- 
laine, John DuBois, John Dunbibin, John Kirkwood, and 
Herald Blackmore to serve in committee in place of James 
Walker, William Campbell, Samuel Campbell, Andrew Ronald- 
son, John Quince and John Robeson, who declined serving. 

Saturday, November i8th, 1775. 

Present: John Ancrum, Chairman, Cornelius Harnett, A. 
Maclaine, John Forster, Wm. Wilkinson, Henry Toomer, 
Charles Jewkes, Wm. Ewans, James Geekie, Peter Mallett. 

Resolved, That no vessel whatever shall load any cargo, to 
any part of the world from this port, until further orders from 
this committee or some superior power. 

Monday, November 20, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Cornelius Harnett, Wm. 
Wilkinson, Henry Toomer, Wm. Ewins, John DuBois, John 
Forster, James Geekie, John Kirkwood, Jona. Dunbibbin, 
Arch. Maclaine. 

On motion William Wilkinson was chosen deputy chairman, 
in place of James Walker, who declined serving in committee. 

A letter was produced from Rich'd Quince, Sr., of Bruns- 
vv^ick, informing that the committee of that town were of 
opinion that a battery might be raised to defend the town ; and 
requested that the cannon be sent from hence for that purpose. 

Resolved, That the carriage guns be sent down, and delivered 
to Col. James Moore. 


On application from Mr. Sam. Campbell, for leave to send 
down provisions for the cruiser man-of-war, Resolved, That 
(as the Commander of the Sloop hath fired a number of times 
on the troops under the command of Col. Moore, without their 
giving any provocation for such conduct) no provisions of 
any kind be sent down to the cruiser, or any other ship belong- 
ing to the navy, till further orders. 

This Committee taking into consideration the danger with 
which the inhabitants on Cape Fear River are threatened by 
the King's Ships now in the harbor; and the avowed contempt 
and violation of justice, in the conduct of Governor Alartin, 
who with the assistance of the said ships is endeavoring to 
carry off the artillery, the property of this Province, and the 
gift of his late Majesty of blessed memory, for our protection 
from foreign invasions ; have 

Resolved, That Messrs. John Forster, William Wilkinson 
and John Slingsby, or any one of them be impowered to pro- 
cure necessary vessels, boats and chains to such part of the 
channel as they or any of them may think proper, to agree for 
the purchase of such boats and other materials as may be 
wanted ; and to have them valued, that the owners may be re- 
imbursed by the public. And it is further ordered that the 
said John Forster, &c., do consult the committee of Brunswick 
on this measure, and request their concurrence. 

Ordered, That the Committee of Intelligence write to Col. 
Howe and the committee of Newbern, and inform them of 
the dangerous situation of the inhabitants of Cape Fear, and 
request an immediate supply of gunpowder to be sent by 
wagons or carts over land. 

Friday, November 24, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Cornelius Harnett, H. 
Toomer, John Kirkwood, James Geekie, Arch'd Maclaine, 
Charles Jewkes, Wm. Ewins, John DuBois. 


Ordered, That the Committee of IntelHgence write to the 
Chairman of the county committee, requesting him to procure 
all the fire-arms he possibly can for the use of Provincial 
Regulars; as by information from Col. Moore, it is imagined 
that the men of war now at Fort Johnson, have an intention to 
attempt burning Brunswick, and afterwards proceed to this 

Ordered, That the Committee of Intelligence, write to the 
committee of Safety for the district of Salisbury, informing 
them of the danger the inhabitants of the Cape Fear are in, 
from the ships of war, now in the harbor; and requesting 
them if they can do it with safety to themselves, to order down 
the troops stationed in that part of the Colony, armed as com- 
pletely as possible. 

Ordered, That the resolve of the committee, forbidding 
vessels to load in this Port, be delivered to Captain Batchelor, 
and that he be informed if he perseveres in loading his vessel, 
he will be treated as an enemy of American liberty. 

Ordered, that Messrs. Samuel Ashe, Frederick Jones, Robert 
Shawe, Benjamin Stone, William Lord, WiUiam Hill, Richard 
Quince, junior, Richard Bradley, William Purviance and John 
Smith, be requested to attend in this town on the 29th day of 
November, instant, in order to value the houses, buildings and 
other improvements therein, that may be liable to be destroyed, 
and that they or any three of them, do value the same upon 
oath, and make a return thereof to this committee under their 

Ordered, that this committee purchase up what lead may be 
found in this town, that the same be run into balls of different 
sizes, as soon as possible, and that Samuel Hewitt be employed 
in making the same, as also cartridges ; and that this committee 
also purchase what Salt Petre and Brimstone may be had. 

This committee being informed that the above Samuel Hew- 
itt has in his possession two 2 pound pieces : Ordered, that he 
produce the same to this committee, as soon as possible. 

HISTORY OF ne;w hanove:r county. 149 

Thursday, December 7, 1775. 

At an occasional meeting of the committee. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, William Wilkinson, 
deputy chairman, Charles Jewkes, John DuBois, Will Ewins, 
John Slingsby, James Geekie, John Kirkwood, Jona. Dun- 
bibbin, Archibald Maclaine. 

On application from William Gibbs, for leave to charter a 
vessel in this River, to load with naval stores, that he has at 
Cape Lookout and Bogue, and intends to bring round here, if 
allowed by this committee, he having already obtained permis- 
sion from the committee of Safety for the District of New- 
bern, to ship a quantity he had cast away on the 26. of Sep- 
tember last. It is the opinion of this committee that should 
Mr. Gibbs charter Capt. Batchelder's vessel (or any other ves- 
sel) to load with naval stores, that the vessel shall not take 
said cargo on board in this river. 

Ordered, that Messrs. Henry Young, Geo. Hooper, William 
Whitfield, Phillip Jones, David Girdwood, and Richard Rundle, 
be requested to join the gentlemen formerly chosen to value 
the houses, &c., in town, and that they be desired to meet for 
that purpose on Tuesday the 12th inst. 

Tuesday, December 19th, 1775. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Will Wilkinson, deputy 
chairman, Archibald Maclaine, John Forster, James Geekie, 
John Kirkwood, William Ewans, Jona. Dunbibin. 

Ordered, that Ralph Millar be immediately supplied with 25 
lbs. of Salt Petre, 7 lbs. Brimstone, and a large mortar and 
pestle, to enable him to make Gunpowder, which he is to pro- 
duce to this committee, and that he be also supplied with 20 
yards of Osnaburgs and two small weights ; that F. Brice shall 
procure the above articles, and have them sent up to John 
Nichols' Landing, in Bladen for said Millar. 


Wednesday, Dec. 20, 1775. 

Present : William Wilkinson, deputy chairman, Arch'd Mac- 
laine, John Forster, Henry Toomer, Charles Jewkes, John Kirk- 
wood, Wm. Ewins, Herold Blackmore, Jona. Dunbibin. 

On application made by Jona. Dix and David Thompson, 
of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island government, for a pass 
to travel to their respective families ; as the said Dix and 
Thompson have not given a satisfactory account to this Com- 
mittee; and as there are some circumstances that make them 
appear inimical to the American cause: 

Ordered, That the said J. Dix and David Thompson be put 
under guard of Captain Dixon's Company, till inquiry shall 
be made about them ; and an order of this committee shall be 
their releasement. 

Friday, December 22d, 1775. 

Present : Wm. Wilkinson, deputy chairman, Arch'd Mac- 
hine, John Forster, Henry Toomer, Charles Jewkes, John 
Kirkwood, Wm. Ewins, John DuBois, James Geekie. 

On examination of Jona. Dix and David Thompson (who 
were put under a guard on the 20th inst: — also, the papers 
they had in their possession (by which nothing could be found 
to prove them our enemies,) and their readiness to take and 
sign an oath administered by the chairman, declaring them- 
selves friends to America; therefore. 

Ordered, That the said Jonathan Dix and David Thompson 
be immediately released, and that a copy of the oath taken by 
them be delivered by the Secretary to enable them to pursue 
their journey without any further hindrence. 

Tuesday, January 2, 1776. 
Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 
chairman, John Forster, H. Blackmore, Will Ewins, James 
Geekie, John DuBois, Henry Toomer, Jona. Dunbibin. 

HISTORY o:p nkw haxove:r county. 151 

This committee having received a letter from the county 
committee, requesting the attendance of this committee at the 
Bridge this day; Ordered, that the chairman of this com- 
mittee and Herold Blackmore attend the county committee. 
Captain Batchelder apphed for leave to clear out his Brig in 
ballast, for New York. 

Resolved, that no vessel, whatever, in this port, clear out for 
any other port, until further orders from this committee or a 
superior power, and that Captain Batchelder be served with a 
copy of this order. 

Friday, January 5, 1776. 

At a meeting of the commiittee. 

Present : John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 
chairman, A. ]^Jaclaine, John Forster, Wm. Evv-ins, Jona. Dun- 
bibin, Henry Toomier, John DuBois, James Geekie, John Kirk- 
wood, H. Blackmore. 

The trade of this port depending so much upon good pilots, 
and the ships of war in the harbor having already one or 
more of the branch pilots in their custody; and the captain 
of the Scorpion exacted from Thomas Bridges (another of the 
said pilots), his parole of honor to return on board the said 
ship, with an intention, as it is conjectured, not only to deprive 
the good people of this colony, of all benefits of trade, but to 
pilot our enemies up the river when it shall be thought ex- 
pedient to destroy the property of the inhabitants. It is the 
opinion of this committee, that all the pilots of this river, be 
immediately secured, and that Col. ]\Ioore be requested to 
take them into his custody ; and it is 

Resolved, That as soon as the said pilots shall be safely 
secured that notice be given to the captain of the Scorpion, 
that the said Thomas Bridges is detained by order of the com- 

Ordered, That the two companies of J\lilitia of this town, 
appear on the usual place of parading, properly armed and 


accoutred on next Monday week, as well as every other in- 
habitant that has not drawn in either of the said companies, 
and that they do draw before the above day, and that the test 
prescribed by the Provincial Council be signed. 

Ordered, That Messrs. Wilkinson and Toomer provide a 
house in this town as an additional barrack for the Regulars 
under the command of Col. Moore, to be appropriated to the 
use of an hospital, and that a nurse be provided to take care 
of the sick. 

Saturday, January 6, 1776. 

At a meeting of the Committee. Present: John Ancrum 
chairman, W. Wilkinson, Deputy Chairman, A. Maclains, John 
Forster, Will. Ewans, John Kirkwood, John DuBois, James 
Geekie, Herold Blackmore. 

Mr. W. Campbell came into committee and presented a letter 
from the Governor, requesting Mr. Campbell to send down two 
or three barrels of flour, a tub of butter, and some vegetables 

Ordered, That Mr. Campbell have leave to send down two 
or three barrels of flour, a tub of butter, and some vegetables 
for His Excellency. 

A. Maclaine produced a letter from the Governor to Capt. 
Maclean ordering him as a half pay oflicer, to embark for Eng- 
land, and Capt. Maclean was of opinion, that should he wait 
on his Excellency, he might obtain leave to continue in this 
Province some time longer. 

Resolved, that Capt. Maclean shall not have leave to wait on 
the Governor, but he may write to the Governor, and that he 
shall show the letter to this committee, pursuant to a resolve 
of the Provincial Council. 

Ordered, that the custom house officers do not clear out any 
vessels from this port hereafter, without leave from this com- 
mittee, or some superior power and that the officers be served 
with this order. 

Pursuant to an order of this committee, empowering certain 


persons therein named, or any three of them, to value the 
houses, buildings, and enclosure in the town of Wilmington; 
a paper has been returned by seven of the said, purporting to 
be a valuation of the buildings, &c., in the said town; but as 
it appears that several of the said houses and buildings have 
been omitted ; that many of the fixtures, particularly those in 
the still house of Harnett and Washington, have been totally 
overlooked ; and the said valuers declared that they did not 
include the fences and inclosures in their valuation ; this com- 
mittee have 

Resolved, That the said valuation is incomplete, inasmuch 
that this order has not been complied with ; and it is further 

Resolved, That John Cheeseborough, Andrew Ronaldson, 
James Blythe, George Jacobs, Malatia Hamilton, Wm. Pur- 
v^ance and Henry Button, (or any three of them), be em- 
powered to value all of the said houses, buildings and enclosures 
in the said town, on oath : and that they be sworn before they 
enter upon the said business ; and that they value the houses 
of C. Harnett, Esq., above the town, and those of Wm. Hooper, 
Esq., and the late Dr. Green below. 

Tuesday, January 9, 1776. 

At a meeting of this Committee. 

Present: Wm. Wilkinson, deputy chairman, Cornelius Har- 
nett, A. Maclaine, Jno. Forster, John Kirkwood, Will Ewans, 
H. Blackm.ore, Jona. Dunbibbin. 

Resolved, that Jacob Phelps, one of the pilots in this river, 
be employed with his boat, to carry freight and passengers be- 
tween Wilmington and Brunswick, and no further, without 
permission ; and that the said J. Phelps do not presume to take 
any passengers or freight, without leave of one of the two 
committee of the said towns, or the commanding officers of the 
forces at Brunswick or Wilmington ; and it is recommended to 
the people in general, that they employ the said Jacob Phelps' 
boat only, as a passage boat; and it is further Resolved, that 


no Other persons, but such as the said Phelps may employ, shall 
have liberty to carry any freight or passengers to Brunswick, 
without the leave of this committee, or the commanding officer 
at Wilmington, to the end that such persons as may have 
inimical designs against the country, may be prevented from 
carrying intelligence to the Governor or Ships of War. 

Resolved, that Jonathan Swann, another of the pilots, have 
liberty to remove with his family from his usual place of 
residence, about two or three miles back; that Benjamin Bill 
may be employed, if he thinks proper, on Board the Provincial 
Ship, but that he shall not have liberty to go to his usual place 
of residence, and that Thomas Galloway continue at some con- 
venient place near the New Inlet, in order to be ready to pilot 
in any vessels which may be allowed to trade in this province, 
and that it be recommended to the Provincial Council and Com- 
mittee of Safety for Wilmington district, to make an adequate 
allowance to the said Thomas Galloway toward the mainten- 
ance of his family. 

Ordered, That Mr. John Forster, receive all the Salt Petre, 
Lead and Brimstone, in Wilmington, that he give receipts for 
the same. And that 4s. per lb. be allowed for all salt petre. 

Saturday, January 12th, 1776. 

Present : John Ancrum, chairman, A. Maclaine, John For- 
ster, Jno. Kirkwood, Wm. Ewins, John Slingsby, J. Dunbibbin, 
John DuBois, James Geekie, Henry Toomer. 

Ordered, That Dr. Geekie supply the following articles for 
the use of the Hospital, that he be repaid by this committee; 
a middle size pot, a small ditto, 2 skillets, a water jug, 2 pint 
mugs, 4 pint bowls, 2 large tea pots, 2 jardens, one half dozen 
pewter spoons. 

Ordered, That the chairman write to Ralph Millar, request- 
ing his attendance on this committee, and informing him, that 
they are willing to allow him los. per day for himself (he 
finding charcoal and making 20 lbs. powder per day; that he 


attend as soon as possible to enter into an agreement for that 
purpose and take the negroes into his possession. 

Monday, January 15, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee : 

Present : John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 
chaimian, A. Maclaine, Jno. Forster, H. Blackmore, Henry 
Toomer, Jas. Geekie, Jno. Slingsby, Jno. Kirkwood, Wm. 

A paper writing, containing two sheets signed, a Lawyer, 
and addressed ''To those who have a true sense of distributive 
justice and untrammeled liberty, residents of the borough of 
Wilmington'' having been produced by the chairman, who 
found it put up to public view under the Court House, and it 
having been acknowledged by a certain William Green to be 
his hand writing, and the said Will. Green having made oath 
that he received the writing from which it was copied from 
Dr. Fallon, returned the original as well as the copy, and the 
said Dr. Fallon, in person, having justified the said papers: 
It is therefore. Resolved, that the said Dr. Fallon appears to 
this committee to be the author and publisher of the said 

Resolved, That the said paper contains many false and 
scandalous reflections on this committee, tending to inflame 
the minds of the people : to create divisions and dissentions 
amongst us by destroying that unanimity so essentially neces- 
sary to our mutual defence; and also containing an illiberal 
and groundless charge against a respectable gentleman de- 
servedly high in office in this colony: 

Resolved, also, that the said Dr. Fallon be kept in close 
custody, until he give security for his good behavior for and 
during the space of six months, in the sum of £500, procla- 
mation money. And the said Dr. Fallon having refused to 
give such security, was ordered into custody. 

156 HISTORY o^ ne:w hanovi:r county. 

Tuesday, January 16, 1776. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 
chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, John Forster, Herald Blackmore, 
Henry Toomer, John Slingsby, James Geekie, Wm. Ewans, 
John Kirkwood. 

At a meeting of the committee : 

Whereas, the Continental Congress, on the ist day of No- 
vember last, ''Resolved, that New York, the lower counties 
on Delaware, North Carolina, and Georgia, ought not to avail 
themselves of the benefit allowed to them by the late restrain- 
ing act, and therefore, that no person should apply at the 
custom house in those Colonies for clearances of other docu- 
ments, which other Colonies are deprived of by said restrain- 
ing act, for securing the navigation of vessels with cargoes 
from their Ports." It is, therefore. 

Resolved, That no person, whatever, do presume to apply to 
the Custom house for clearances, without first obtaining leave 
from this or some other Committee for that purpose; and 
that this Resolve be made public, and a copy delivered to the 
officers of the Customs. 

Resolved, that the resolution of this committee, passed the 
6th inst., ordering the Custom-house officers not to clear out 
vessels without leave be rescinded. 

Captain Alexander Maclean having gone down to the ship 
Cruiser, and been with the Governor, contrary to a resolve of 
the Provincial council, and also, an order of this committee. 

Resolved, therefore, that he, the said Alexander Maclean be 
sent for, to come before this committee, to answer such breach 
aforesaid, and give security for his good behavior; which he 
has accordingly done, himself, James Walker and Arch'd Mac- 
laine, in the sum of five hundred pounds proclamation money, 
for six months, if he continues in the Province so long. 

Ordered, that permission be granted to Captain Butterfield 
to clear out his schooner in ballast only. Also, to Captain 
Batchelder to clear his brig out, he having nothing on board 
but ballast and necessary sea stores. Captain Batchelder also 

HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 157 

had leave to send a letter to the Governor, desiring to know if 
his vessel would be prevented from going out of this river. 

Ordered, that William Wilkinson be appointed to receive all 
the Salt Petre, brimstone and lead, in the room of John Forster, 
who was appointed on the 9th inst., for that purpose, and that 
Mr. Wilkinson give receipts for the same. 

Messrs. Forster and Geekie having called on Dr. Fallon to 
know if he intended to give security required by the com- 
mittee, they reported to this committee that Dr. Fallon re- 
fused to give any security. 

The committee adjourned to 5 o'clock this evening. 

Tuesday evening, 5 o'clock. 

The committee met according to adjournment. 

Present: John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 
chairman, Henry Toomer, H. Blackmore, Jno. Forster, Jona. 
Dunbibbin, James Geekie, Arch'd Maclaine, Jno. Slingsby, 
Wm. Ewins, John Kirkwood. 

Resolved, that Dr. Fallon be continued under guard for the 
present time, and that Colonel Moore be requested to refuse 
admittance to any person, but such as he or the officer on 
guard may think proper; and that Dr. Fallon be not precluded 
from the use of pen, ink, and paper, but that when the officer 
on guard may think he has any letters to send out, and requests 
admittance for any particular person, such person may be ad- 
mitted for so long a time as the officer may think proper, but 
that such person be carefully searched on his departure, and 
any letters that may be found upon him, to be carried to the 
commanding officer. 

The committee adjourned. 

Wednesday, January 17, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee : 

Present : John Ancrum, chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, deputy 

158 HISTORY 01^ Ni:w hanovi:r county. 

chairman, Arch'd Maclaine, Cornelius Harnett, Herold Black- 
more, Jona Dunbibbin, John Kirkwood, Henry Toomer, John 
Slingsby, John DuBois. 

Col. Moore having requested of this committee to furnish 
him with 50 stand of arms. 

On motion, ordered that John Ancrum chairman, Wm. 
Wilkinson, John DuBois, and Jona. Dunbibin be requested to 
call respectively on the inhabitants of this town to-morrow, 
and borrow from them such guns as they can spare, to supply 
Col. Moore, as soon as possible with the number of guns he 
wants — they having such guns valued, and giving proper re- 
ceipts for them to the owners. 

Col. Moore having informed this committee that he looks 
upon Dr. Fallon to be an insinuating and dangerous person 
among the soldiers, and that he can not, without injuring the 
common cause, and running the risk of the public safety, any 
longer keep the said Fallon in the Guard House. 

Resolved, That he, the said Dr. Fallon be committed to the 
common jail to-morrow morning, at eleven o'clock, there to 
remain until he makes a full concession for his offences to the 
public, and asks pardon of this committee for the repeated in- 
sults which he has in person offered. 

Resolved, That Col. Moore be requested to order a Guard to 
attend near the jail and to give strict orders that the soldiers 
shall not converse with Dr. Fallon, that no person be admitted 
to speak to him but by leave of the officer on Guard, and that 
no letter or writing be suffered to be sent out by the Doctor 
without the inspection of such officer. 

The committee then adjourned. 

Thursday, January 18, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee. 

Present : Wm. Wilkinson, deputy chairman, Henry Toomer, 
John Slingsby, John Forster, Arch'd Maclaine, James Geekie, 
Wm. Ewins, Jona. Dunbibin. 


A letter from John Ashe, Esq., to Dr. Fallon, requesting the 
Doctor to attend his family, being laid before this committee, 
in answer thereto, Resolved, that a copy of the Resolves of 
this Committee relative to Dr. Fallon, be inclosed by the Secre- 
tary to Col. Ashe. 

The committee adjourned. 

Saturday, January 20, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee : Present John Ancrum, 
Chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, Dep. Chairman, Henry Toomer, 
John Forster, Arch'd Maclaine, John DuBois, James Geekie, 
John Kirkwood, Herold Blackmore : 

On the application of William Cause, and others, in behalf 
of themselves and the inhabitants of Challotte (Shalotte) and 
Lockwoods Folly, setting forth their apprehensions of danger 
from the people of Waggamaw, and requesting of this com- 
mittee a small supply of powder, to enable them to act in their 
own defence in case they should be attacked. 

Ordered, that 20 lbs. of Gunpowder be supplied to WiUiam 
Cause from the stock of this Committee, for the use of the 
inhabitants of Lockwoods Folly and Shallotte, when the said 
Gause applies for the same. 

Whereas, this committee on the 17th inst., issued a Mittimus 
to the Sheriff of New Hanover Co., requiring the said Sheriff 
and the keeper of the jail, safely to keep the body of James 
Fallon, until he should give sufficient security for his good 
behavior to the public, for the space of six months, in the 
sum of £500 proc. money ; and until he should make a full con- 
cession for his offences to the public, and ask pardon of this 
Committee for the repeated insults which he has in person 
offered, and whereas it appears to this committee that the 
prison door has been kept open and all such persons as applied 
for admission to Dr. Fallon have had liberty to enter and the 
said Dr. Fallon has been permitted to write letters and send 
them out without any inspection, altho in one of these letters 


to the Sheriff he continues to repeat and justify his offences 
and as the intention of imprisoning the said Dr. Fallon was 
to prevent him from the future from disturbing the peace of 
society, this committee have Resolved, That the Sheriff and 
Jailor give strict orders that no person be admitted to Dr. 
Fallon (except in case of sickness) but a servant to carry his 
necessaries and keep his department clean, and that the said 
Fallon shall not be suffered to send out any letters or writings 
but such as may be approved by this committee or the com- 
manding officer of the forces, and that the prison door be kept 
locked. Ordered that a copy of the above be sent to the 

Resolved that a resolve on the i8th inst to send copies of the 
proceedings of this committee to John Ashe, Esq., be rescinded. 

Saturday night, 9 o'clock. 

At a meeting of the committee : Present John Ancrum, 
Chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, Dep. Chairman, John Forster, 
Herald Blackmore, John Kirkwood, Dr. Geekie, Arch'd Mac- 
laine, John DuBois, Wm. Ewins, Henry Toomer : 

Resolved, That it be recommended to the Commanding of- 
ficers of the militia in Wilmington to warn their companies to 
be ready at the Court House to-night completely accoutered 
at the beat of the drum. 

Monday, January 22, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee ; Present Wm. Wilkinson 
Deputy Chairman, John Forster, James Geekie, Wm. Ewins, 
John Kirkwood, Henry Toomer, Jona Dunbibbin. 

Dr. Fallon having applied by letter to the Chairman of this 
committee for a copy of a paper writing signed ''A Lawyer," 
and the proceedings of the committee against him. Ordered 
that the Secretary supply Dr. Fallon with a copy of the pro- 
ceedings of this committee against him as author of a certain 


paper signed ''A Lawyer," but not with a copy of the said 
paper. The committee adjourned. 

Saturday, January 27, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee : Present John Ancrum 
Chairman, WilHam Wilkinson, Dep. Chairman, John Forster, 
Arch'd Maclaine, John Kirkwood, Wm. Ewins, James Geekie, 
Herold Blackmore, Jona. Dunbibbin, John DuBois. 

The Governor having sum.moned his Majesty's Council to 
attend him on board the Scorpion, Sloop of War, and several 
of his Majesty's Council being in this town on their way to 
attend on the Governor agreeable to said summons : Resolved 
that this committee are bound by a resolve of the Provincial 
Congress to prevent any person from waiting on Governor 
Martin, and particularly at this present time this committee 
can not consistent with the safety of the country permit his 
Majesty's Council to attend the Governor, and the Chairman 

is ordered to respectfully to each of the Council 

who may be in town and acquaint them with this resolve. 

A letter from Capt Parry, commander of the cruiser, to 
Captain Bachelder informing him he would give him leave to 
pass with his vessel provided he brought down the provisions 
demanded from Mr. Campbell; Thereupon, Resolved, that the 
requisition of Captain Parry is an insult to this Committee, and 
for the future, if any provisions are suffered to go down to 
the man of war they shall be sent down in small boats as 

The Committee adjourned. 

Saturday, Jan'y 28, 1776. 
At a meeting of the Committee : 

Capt. W^alker informed this Committee that he had in 
custody, under a Guard, Mr. William Mactier, who was, about 
10 o'clock last night, with three other persons going to Bruns- 


wick in a boat, that Mr. Mactier refused to comply with his 
requisition in giving his word of honor that he would not 
go further than Brunswick, without applying to Col. Moore; 
and Mr. Mactier being brought before the committee, and 
alleging that he had leave from some of the members thereof, 
and it appearing that no leave had been granted : 

Resolved, That Captain Walker has done his duty in taking 
Mr. Mactier into custody, and keeping him under a Guard. 

Resolved, Also (Mactier having declined for the present 
to sign the test recommended by the Provincial Congress) 
that he shall not leave to go down the river on any pre- 
tence whatever, until he satisfies this Committee that he is a 
friend to the American cause, and enter into such obligation 
as may be thought necessary. 

Resolved, That Captain Walker discharge Mr, Mactier from 
the Guard. 

Wednesday, January 31, 1776. 

At a meeting of the Committee. 

Present : John Ancrum Chairman, Wm. Wilkinson Deputy 
Chairman, John Forster, Dr. Geekie, Arch'd Maclaine, Henry 
Toomer, Jona. Dunbibbin, Wm. Ewans, John Kirkwood, John 

Major Clark having applied to this committee for 2 dozen 
spades, to finish the entrenchments begun below the town of 
Wilmington : 

Ordered, that Cap Clark may purchase 2 dozen spades and 
give receipts for the same, to be paid by a warrant from the 
Provincial Council on the Treasury. 

Whereas a former order passed in this committee for Mr. 
Hewitt to be employed to make cartridges. 

Ordered, that Mr. Hewitt be immediately set to work to 
make cartridges, and be allowed one dollar per day, when em- 
ployed in that service, till a further agreement with him, and 
that he be supplied with paper, &c., for that purpose, and that 

HISTORY o^ Ni:w hanove:r county. 163 

Mr. Dunbibin purchase and give receipts for the same in the 
name of the committee. 
The committee adjourned. 

Friday, February 2, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee. Present : John Ancrum 
chairman, John Forster, Wm. Ewins, John Kirkwood, Henry 
Toomer, John DuBois, James Geekie, Jona. Dunbibbin, Herold 
Blackmore, John Shngsby. 

Information having been made to this committee, that a cer- 
tain Mixon, who Hves on the Sound near to Hasell's, goes 

frequently on board the Man of War, and that John Porter, 
a miller to Mr. J. Robeson, can inform this committee par- 
ticularly of Mr. Mixon's conduct. 

Ordered that the chairman, Capt. Forster, and John Slingsby 
be appointed to examine John Porter and if any proof should 
appear against the said Mixon, acting inimical to the American 
cause, or going on board the Man of War, they are to apply 
to the Commanding officer in town to take him in custody. 

Whereas, a former Resolve of this Committee passed re- 
questing all persons who had not signed the test, recommended 
by the Provincial Council, to sign the same, and as many per- 
sons have neglected to comply with such request, it is, 

Resolved, That James Grant call on all those who have not 
signed and tender them the test, and such persons as refuse to 
sign, he is to make a return of their names to this Committee. 

The Committee adjourned. 

Monday, February 5, 1776. 
At a meeting of the committee. Present: John Ancrum 
Chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, Deputy Chairman, John Forster, 
Jno. Slingsby, Jno. DuBois, John Kirkwood, Jona. Dunbibbin, 


Henry Toomer, Wm. Ewins, Arch'd Maclaine, Herold Black- 
more. .■ -^ 

Mr. Nash presented to the chairman, a letter from Governor 
Martin to Maurice Moore, Esq., in answer to one the com- 
mittee permitted him to send to the Governor — which was 
read in Committee, and returned to Mr. Nash. 

A letter from the Governor to the Council was also read 
in answer to theirs read in Committee 28th January. 

Col. Moore having informed this Committee that the Men 
of War, lying at Fort Johnston, had committed hostilities on 
the Continental Troops under his command, by firing on them 
at the said Fort; and as the Committee of Safety passed a 
Resolve that the "Cruizer," sloop of war, might be supplied with 
provision from time to time, so long as she did not commit 
hostilities on the persons or properties of the good people of 
this Province. 

Resolved, That the ships of war now lying in this river, 
have actually committed hostilities against the inhabitants of 
this Province, and therefore, this Committee in obedience to 
the said resolve of the Committee of safety, can not suffer 
any more provision to go down to the Men of War, for the 

Ordered, that a copy of the above resolve be delivered to 
the agent for supplying the stationed ship in this Port. 

Dr. Fallon, by letter, to the chairman, having signified an 
intention to come under recognizance to the public for his good 
behavior : 

Ordered, that Arch'd Maclaine, Captain Blackmore, Dr. 
Geekie and John Slingsby, be appointed to make out a form of 
recognizance for Dr. Fallon to sign, and that he be served 
with a copy. 

The Committee adjourned. 


February 9, 1776. 

At a meeting of the committee: Present John Ancrum 
chairman, Wm. Wilkinson, Deputy chairman, Wm. Ewins, 
John DuBois, Cornelius Harnett, Herold Blackmore, John 
Kirkwood, Jona. Dunbibbin, Henry Toomer. 

I, A. B. do free and voluntarily swear, that in my opinion 
and sincere belief, neither the Parliament of Great Britain, 
nor any member or constituent branch thereof, have a right to 
impose taxes upon the American colonies, to regulate the 
internal policies thereof, and that all attempts by fraud or 
force to establish and exercise such claims and powers are 
violations of the peace and security of the people, and ought 
to be resisted to the utmost ; and that the people of this Colony 
singly and collectively are bound by the acts of the Continental 
and Provincial Congress, because in both they are freely repre- 
sented by persons chosen by themselves; and I do solemnly 
swear to support, maintain and defend all and every the acts, 
resolutions and regulations of the said Continental and Prov- 
incial Congresses, to the utmost of my power and abilities — So 
help me God. 

The Committee took the above oath, and Resolved that the 
Captains of the two Companies shall muster their men imme- 
diately, and tender the same to every man in Wilmington, 
without exception, and whoever shall refuse or decline volun- 
tarily to take the s'd Oath, shall by the Militia Officers afore- 
said, be disarmed as inimical to the liberties of America. 


Burning oi^ Fort Johnston and Expulsion o^ Goviernor 
Martin — Vigii^ance of thi: Wilmington Committi:e: — 
Move:mi:nt of Scotch Highlanders — Battle of Moore's 
Creek^ — Colonel Moore's Report — Letter of Colonel 

Prior to the beginning of 1775, the excitement throughout 
the Province had increased to a great height, and when the 
Mecklenburg proceedings in May took place it burst into a 
blaze of enthusiasm, although the still lingering desire to be 
reconciled to Great Britain, if possible, and the fear of too great 
haste in precipitating a conflict, restrained and embarrassed the 
more conservative and timid spirits. 

But among the people of the lower Cape Fear, the determi- 
nation to "begin business" was soon manifested,* and the Com- 
mittee at Wilmington early in July sent word to those in other 
counties, that they proposed to take the fort at the mouth of 
the river, whereupon volunteers began to assemble, and on the 
15th of July, Col. Robert Howe, of Brunswick County, and on 
the 1 6th Col. John Ashe, of New Hanover, started with de- 
tachments for the fort, the two numbering about five hundred 
men, and meeting at the town of Brunswick; but before they 
reached the fort, the commanding officer. Captain Collet, after 
removing his arms, ammunition and other supphes to a trans- 
port lying in the river, joined Governor Martin, (who had fled 
frorr^ New Bern) on the sloop of war *'Cruizer," then in the 
harbor, from the deck of which, on the night of the i8th they 
witnessed the burning of the fort to which the troops had set 
fire. This was the opening scene of actual war in North 

The people of Bladen County, on hearing of this movement, 

* See proceedings of Satety Committee, June 20 and July 21. 

Moore's Creek Battle Ground 
To the Brave Scotch Highlander? 

Erected in 1907 to the Heroic Womex Moore's Creek Bridge 

OF Cape Fear Section. 1775-1781 Original Monument, Erected 1857 


assembled immediately, and about three hundred of them met 
Ashe and Howe when returning from the fort.^ 

Being nearer to the Governor's place of refuge than their 
compatriots, the Wilmington Committee could keep a more 
vigilant watch upon his movements and learn more of his de- 
signs. They soon discovered that he strongly desired, and in- 
tended, if possible, to get into the interior and take personal 
command of the army of Loyalists, particularly the Scotch 
Highlanders, of whom he asked the King to appoint him com- 
mander. His request was not granted, and it was fortunate 
for him that it was not, for, although a lieutenant-colonel in 
the British service and said to be a very competent ofhcer, he 
would have met the fate which General McDonald met at 
Moore's Creek and landed in jail as he did, or been killed like 
poor McLeod if he had undertaken to lead the assault as he 
did. It is more than probable, however, that if he had received 
the appointment he would never have reached his friends, for 
the ever vigilant Wilmington Committee kept the other com- 
mittees informed of his aims, and they were ready to arrest 
and imprison him on sight. The only army experience the 
Governor ever got during the Revolution was as a truest of 
Lord Cornwallis in South Carolina, and later of Major Craig 
in one of his raids out of Wilmington in lySi.-f 

Governor Martin remained on the "Cruizer," as he dared not 
make his appearance ashore, and from this, his new and only 
home in America, issued pamphlets to the Loyalists which 
were circulated by secret agents. He had been expecting for 
some time to receive help, and at last, in November, he was 
notified that seven British regiments were on the way to him, 
but disappointment again awaited him, for the expected aid did 

* Colonial Records, X, 114-U5. Governor Martin so hated Howe that, in a letter dated 
two days before the burning of the fort and addressed to the Earl of Dartmouth, he thus 
spoke of him: "Robert Howes is commonly called Howe, he having impudently as- 
sumed that name for some years past in affectation of the noble family that bears it, whose 
least eminent virtues have ever been far beyond his imitation." — Colonial Records, X, 98. 

t President Swain, in his "lecture on the Invasion of North Carolina in 1776," says that 
Governor Martin not only suggested that campaign "but that the entire system of opera- 
tions for the reduction of North Carolina until the retirement of Cornwallis in May, 1781, 
was prosecuted to some extent under his immediate supervision." 


not arrive until too late for the movements he was contem- 
plating, and indeed not until after the glorious victory of 
Moore's Creek Bridge had entirely destroyed all hope of over- 
running and subduing North Carolina. 

The Revolution had now actually begun in earnest, Howe's 
expedition to Virginia in November and an expedition to South 
Carolina in December under Rutherford, Polk, Martin and 
others, having been successful, and the spirit of the patriots 
was exultant. 

On the 5th of .February, 1776, the movement of the Tories, 
for which the Governor had impatiently waited, began, and they 
marched to Cross Creek (Fayetteville) under command of Gen- 
eral McDonald. On the 9th the news of this movement reached 
Wilmington, and about the same time was received elsewhere. 
Its effect was electrical. At Wilmington Col. James Moore, 
who, at the session of the Provincial Congress at Hillsborough 
in the previous August, had been appointed Colonel of the first 
regiment. Continental Line, Howe being appointed Colonel of the 
second, immediately ordered his regiment to get ready to move 
against McDonald, and, after three or four days of continuous 
hard labor in preparation, began his miarch with his regiment 
and a field battery consisting of five guns. He was joined as he 
passed through Bladen by a part of the militia of that county 
and reached, took possession of, and fortified Rockfish Bridge, 
seven miles east of Cross Creek, on the 15th. On t he 19 th he 
was joined by Colonel Alexander LjUington, with one hundred 
and fifty of the Wilmington Minute Men, and Colonel Kenan, 
with about one huiidTe3~of~the"TT5iunteer independent rangers, 
making his command number about one thousand. McDonald's 
armiy numbered about fifteen hundred, and with these he 
marched on the 20th to within four miles of Moore's position, 
and sent a letter with Governor Martin's proclamation offering 
pardon to Moore and his command if they would surrender 
and take the oath of allegiance. Moore, knowing that Col. 
Alex. Martin and Colonel Thackston were approaching the rear 
of McDonald with troops from the up-country, and that Colonel 


Caswell was coming froin the east with . eight_hundred men, 
sent a reply that he would answer definitely the next day, his 
purpose being to give Martin and Thackston time to get into 
position to cut off his retreat, when he intended to move out 
and attack McDonald in front and rear. McDonald's men had 
already begun to desert, two companies having left in a body 
on the night of the 20th, just at the time that McDonald, 
learning of Caswell's coming, had commenced to escape, which 
he did that night and next morning by crossing the river at 
Cam.pbellton with his whole force, and after sinking and de- 
stroying all the boats, taking the shortest road to Negro Head 
Point, opposite to Wilmington. 

On discovering the movement as soon as it was made, Moore 
had the first opportunity of his brief but brilliant career to 
exhibit his qualities as a military commander — qualities which 
caused his immediate prom.otion to the rank of Brigadier Gen- 
eral (March 13th) and within a year secured for him the com- 
mand of the whole Southern department. His report to the 
President of the Provincial Council, Cornelius Harnett — the 
Council being then in session at New Bern — recites the facts as 
we have given them up to this movement of McDonald, and 
then continues in the following words : 

"I then dispatched an express to Colonel Caswell, who was on his 
march to join us with about eight hundred men, and directed him to 
return and take possession of Corbett's Ferry over Black Eiver, and 
by every means to obstruct, harass and distress them in their march. 
At the same time I directed Colonel Martin and Colonel Thackston to 
take possession of Cross Creek in order to prevent their return that 
way. Colonel Lillington and Colonel Ashe I ordered by a forced march 
to endeavor, if possible, to reinforce Colonel Caswell; but if that could 
not be effected to take possession of Moore's Creek Bridge while I pro- 
ceeded back with the remainder of our. army to cross the Northwest 
at Elizabethtown so as either to meet them on their way to Corbett's 
Ferry, or fall in their rear and surrender them there. On the 23rd I 
crossed the river at Elizabethtown, where I was compelled to wait for a 
supply of provisions until the 24th at night, having learned that 
Colonel Caswell was almost entirely without. Just when I was pre- 
pared to march I received an express from Colonel Caswell, informing 


me that the Tories had raised a flat which had been sunk in Black 
River about five miles above him, and by erecting a bridge had passed 
it with the whole army. I then determined as a last expedient to 
proceed immediately in boats down the North West River to Dollerson's 
Landing, about sixty miles, and to take possession of Moore's Creek 
Bridge, about ten miles from there; at the same time acquainting 
Colonel Caswell of my intentions, and recommending to him to retreat 
to Moore's Creek Bridge if possible, but if not, to follow on in their 
rear. The next day by four o'clock we arrived at Dollerson's Landing, 
but as we could not possibly march that night, for the want of horses 
for the artillery, I dispatched an express to Moore's Creek Bridge to 
learn the situation of affairs there, and was informed that Colonel Lil- 
lington, who had the day before taken his stand at the bridge was, that 
afternoon, reinforced by Colonel Caswell, and that they had raised a 
small breastwork and destroyed a part of the bridge. 

"The next morning, the 27th at break of day, an alarm gun was fired, 
immediately after which, scarce allowing our people a moment to pre- 
pare, the Tory army, with Captain McLeod at the head, made their 
attack on Colonel Caswell and Colonel Lillington, and finding a small 
intrenchment next the bridge on our side empty, concluded that our 
people had abandoned their post, and in the most furious manner ad- 
vanced within thirty paces of our breastwork and artillery, where they 
met a very proper reception. Captain McLeod and Captain Campbell 
fell within a few paces of the breastwork, the former of whom received 
upward of twenty balls in his body; and in a very few minutes their 
whole army was put to flight, and most shamefully abandoned their 
General, who was next day taken prisoner. The loss of the enemy 
in this action, from the best accounts we have been able to learn, is 
about thirty killed and wounded, but as numbers of them must have 
fallen into the creek, besides many more that were carried off, I sup- 
pose their loss may be estimated at about fifty. 

"We had only two wounded, one of them died this day." [This dead 
hero was John Grady, of Duplin.] 

Colonel Moore, owing to the circumstances recited in his 
letter, did not reach the battlefield in time to take command, 
but, as also appears, he directed all the movements of the dif- 
ferent detachments, immediately upon a sudden change of 
operations by his wily and able opponent. This fact was for 
a long tim.e lost sight of in the subsequent controversy between 
the friends of Caswell and Lillington as to which of the two 
commanded in the fight.* 

* See vote of thanks to Colonel Moore. Preface to Col. Rec, X, 12. 


It was the first clear and overwhelming triumph of the 
Americans in the Revolution, and its results not only in the 
capture of eight hundred and fifty prisoners and in the value 
of captured material, including seventy five thousand dollars 
in gold, fifteen hundred rifles, three hundred and fifty shotguns, 
one hundred and fifty swords and dirks, two medicine chests 
worth more than fifteen hundred dollars, and thirteen wagons 
and teams — but in its moral effects upon both patriots and 
Tories, were almost incalculable.* Governor Martin, of course, 
tried to minimize these results by writing to the Government 
that what he called the ''little check to the Loyalists" was a 
small matter that would not have any very serious effects, but 
the victory produced a wave of joyous exultation throughout 
North Carolina among the patriots, and for a time utterly 
crushed the spirit of the Tories. 

The British fleet, with seven regiments under Clinton and 
Lord Cornwallis, which Governor Martin had been so long 
expecting, and to form a junction with which was the purpose 
of McDonald's Tory army, did not arrive in the Cape Fear River 
until about the first of May, just two months after the battle 
of Moore's Creek. Its arrival was at once made known by 
General Moore to the Provincial Congress, then sitting at Hali- 
fax, which immediately ordered all the regiments of regulars 
to report to him at Wilmington, but these regulars constituted 
only a part of the force that turned out to meet the invaders, 
for the volunteers and militia flocked in to the number of 
several thousand, making the total force on the Cape Fear 
more than six thousand men.| 

There is an interesting letter from Col. Wm. Purviance, of 
New Hanover, dated February 23,+ and addressed to the Coun- 
cil, giving an account of the preparations under his directions 

* And yet a distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, a few years ago, when a small 
appropriation was asked from Congress to erect a monument on the battlefield, declared 
he had never before heard of the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. 

t Saunders (Preface to Col. Rec, Y, 13 ) regarded the first estimate of 9400 men as some- 
what exaggerated. 

t Col. Rec, X, 464-8. 


for the defence of Wilmington after Colonel Moore had gone 
to Cross Creek, before the arrival of the fleet and while the 
"Cruizer" and ''Scorpion" were committing depredations along 
the river. The letter shows that Colonel Purviance, though dis- 
claiming any military skill, was exceedingly vigilant and effi- 
cient in the performance of this duty, as the following extracts 
from it prove: 

After telling of his orders from Colonel Moore to prepare for 
marching, and of his work "during upwards of eighty hours 
of severe service night and day, with the assistance of the regu- 
lars and minute men whilst they were here," he says he had 
''happily effected everything necessary." "The two companies 
of minute men in this county and somewhat above eighty others, 
under the command of John Ashe, Esq., and stiling themselves 
Volunteers, together with a considerable number of disaffected 
persons, reduced the number of fighting men in my county so 
much that it was thought necessary with so small a number that 
remained that I should stay behind to protect the Town and ad- 
jacent Country from any insults that might be offered in the 
Absence of the Troops, by the Ships of War; Unequal as I 
know myself, and as indeed I must necessarily be, to any mili- 
tary command, I chearfully exerted myself to fill a department 
which of course fell upon me and which there was not any 
other to undertake." 

He says that Lieutenant-Colonel Devane had nobly relin- 
quished his rank to take command of a Minute Company which 
otherwise could not have been raised, and that he had assigned 
Major Ward to act as lieutenant-colonel and Captain Young to 
be first major and adjutant, Dubois to be second major, "they 
being two of the most active ofiicers I have and the best ac- 
quainted with military discipHne." Reports having been re- 
ceived from Brunswick on the 14th February, that the sloop of 
war "Cruizer", with a tender, had passed that town on her way 
up the river, great excitement ensued and the noncombatants 
began to move their families and effects out of danger. 

"Since that time," he says, "I have been reinforced by Captain 


Clinton's company of minute men from Duplin, a minute com- 
pany from Onslow and part of the militia of this last county 
under the command of Colonel Cray. I have also had between 
fifty and sixty men under Major Quince from Brunswick 
County, and with all those forces I have been almost constantly 
emiployed in throwing up breastworks on the principal Streets 
and Wharfs and the hills above and below the Town; these I 
shall soon have compleated so as to prevent the landing of any 
men from the Ships. I am making the necessary preparations 
for fire rafts and shall be able to make use of what swivels are 
mounted and of a number of blunderbusses. 

''But I am now assured the ships never will venture to Wil- 
mington. They too much dread the rifle-men to approach us. 
The Cruizer and her tender attempted to go up the North West 
River on the West side of the Great Island opposite to Town,"^ 
but found there was not sufficient water all the way, and they 
returned. It is thought the intention was to favor the Regu- 
lators and the highland banditti, whom they expected to 
Triumph and protect the Provision Boats which would conse- 
quently come from Cross Creek for their Army and Ships. 
After the Cruizer had fallen down below the Island her people 
went several times on Shore at Mr. Ancrum's Plantation, -j- 
carried off his live stock and vegetables, and attempted to seize 
his Negroes who fled to the woods. 

"They have even taken away a parcel of printed Books, Old 
Clothes, &c., and threatened to burn the house. I therefore 
thought it necessary to dispatch Major Quince with his de- 
tachment to protect the inhabitants on the West Side of the 
River as I found that the m^ore necessary as Col. Davis of 
Brunswick County, informed me yesterday that there were 
fifty men from the Ships at the fort pillaging the Inhabitants. 
Capt. Dupree with only fifteen men arrived at Mr. Ancrum's 
plantation just as the Cruizer's boat was coming ashore the 
third time, fired upon them, which was returned and kept up 

• Now called Brunswick River. 
t The "Old Town" plantation. 


about a minute, when the Sailors pushed off with precipitation. 
We certainly did some execution tho' they carried off their 
Men. The Cruizer fired three Guns without effect; since this 
the ship is gone down below the flats. 

''The Ships of War which threatened us for some time are 
all fallen down to Brunswick. Their people have been so much 
harassed on both sides of the River by the Riflemen that I 
imagine their station became uneasy.""^ 

* It is to be regretted that it has been impossible to secure a record of Colonel Purviance 
and his descendants, although he was a prominent man in the history of the county at 
that period. As elsewhore stated, the creek leading into Masonborough Sound through 
his lands was long known as Purviance Creek. 

Spenx'er Comptom, Earl of Wilmington 
(From portrait painted for James Sprunt, E.sq.) 


Martin's and Parry's Correspondence With the Com- 
mittee — Clinton's Proclamation — Howe's Plantation 
Plundered — British Abandon the Cape Fear Until 
1 78 1 — Craig Comes in 1781 — His Operations. 

It was a remarkable fact that what happened just ten years 
before, when Governor Tryon and Captain Lobb, of the sloop 
of war "Viper" tried to scare the people of Wilmington for 
refusing to supply the men of war with provisions, should have 
happened again exactly on the same day of the same month 
ten years later, when Governor Martin and Captain Parry, of 
the sloop of war "Cruizer," tried the same experiment. Mayor 
DeRosset received Tryon's letter February 2^, 1766, and Har- 
nett received Martin's and Parry's letters February 27, 1776."^ 
The insolent threat of the latter assumes a comic aspect in 
view of the fact that at the very hour of the correspondence, 
McDonald's army, on whose immediate arrival the Governor 
was confidently relying, had been beaten and captured ; and 
the change of tone in Captain Parry's last note, when news of 
the victory had doubtless been received — namely, ''must beg 
you will send a few quarters of good beef" — is pitiful. The 
following is the correspondence, as contained in the Colonial 
Records, Vol. 10, 477-481 : 
To the Magistrates and Inhabitants of the Town of Wilmington: 

It is expected and hereby required that the Inhabitants of the Town 
of Wilmington do furnish for his Majestie's service one thousand bar- 
rels of good flour on or before Saturday next, being the second day of 
March, which will be paid for at Market price. Jo. Martin. 

Cruizer Sloop of War, 

Off Wilmington, Feb. 27th, 1776. 

Cruizer, Wilmington River, 

Feb. 27th, 1776. 

His Majestie's ships not having received provisions agreeable to their 
regular Demands, I shall as soon as possible, be off Wilmington with 

• The reply to these demands is not signed, but Martin plainly refers to Harnett as the 
author by attributing it to "the Chairman of a Combination," and so forth. 


his Majestie's sloop Cruizer and other armed vessels under my com- 
mand to know the reason of their not being supplied. 

I expect to be supplied by six this evening with the provisions I 
have now demanded of the contractor. 

If his Majestie's ships or Boats are in the least annoyed it will be 
my duty to oppose it. Fran. Parry. 

To the Magistrates and Inhabitants of Wilmington. 

The Inhabitants of Wilmington, by their representatives in Com- 
mittee, in answer to your Excellencie's Demand of One Thousand Bar- 
rels of flour for his Majestie's service, beg leave to assure your Excel- 
lency that they have been always most cordially disposed to promote 
his Majestie's real service which they think consistent only with the 
good of the whole British empire. But the inhabitants are astonished 
at the quantum of your Excellencie's requisition as they cannot con- 
ceive what service his Majesty has in this part of the world for so 
much flour. In the most quiet and peaceable Times when the Ports 
were open and Trade flourished it would have been impossible to pro- 
cure such a quantity in the Town in so short a time as your Excellency 
mentions. How then can your Excellency expect a compliance from the 
Inhabitants of Wilmington during the present stagnation of Commerce? 
At a time, too, when you well know that an army raised and commis- 
sioned by your Excellency hath been for some time possessed of Cross 
Creek and the adjacent country, from whence only we can expect the 
Article you have thought to Demand. 

We can with Truth assure your Excellency that it is not in our 
power to comply with your requisition, either in whole or in part, many 
of the inhabitants having for some time passed wanted flour for private 
use and the dread of Military Execution by the ships of War hath in- 
duced most of the Inhabitants to remove their effects. 

The Inhabitants, Sir, sincerely wish they had not reason to expect 
that your Excellency's Demand is only a prelude to the intended de- 
struction of the devoted Town of Wilmington. 

If this should be the case it will not, however, make any alteration 
in their determination. It will be their duty to defend their property 
to the utmost, and if they do not succeed altogether to their wish they 
have one consolation left, that their friends will in a few days have 
it in their power to make ample retribution upon those whom your 
Excellency thinks proper to dignify with the epithets of friends of Gov- 
ernment. These faithless and selfish people are now surrounded by 
three armies above four times their number, and the Town of Cross 
Creek, now in our hands will make some, tho, a very inadequate com- 
pensation for the destruction of Wilmington. 

This, Sir, is no boast and we would not treat your Excellency with 
so much disrespect as to make use of Threats. 


The Account we have given you is sacredly true, and we have the 
most convincing proof of it in our possession. 

I have the honor to be, by order of the Committee, 
Sir, Your Excellency's most Obt. Serv't. 

Wilmington, 27th Feb., 1776. 

The reasons why his Majestie's ships have not been supplied with the 
usual quantity of provisions is so obvious that it cannot possibly have 
escaped the sagacity of Cap't. Parry. 

The trade of this colony hath been distressed by the King's Ships even 
contrary to the Acts of the British Parliament. The Military stores, 
the property of the People, have been seized with an avowed intention 
to subjugate them to slavery. The fort, which the People had built 
at a great Expense for the protection of their Trade made use of for a 
purpose the very reverse, and when they attempted to demolish it they 
have been fired upon by the ships of war. 

The slaves of the American Inhabitants have been pursued, and many 
of them seized and inveigled from their duty, and their live stock and 
other property killed and plundered long before the Committee thought 
it necessary to deny the ships a supply of provisions; and to Crown all 
you, Sir, for the Second Time, have brought up the Cruizer and several 
Armed Vessels to cover the landing of an army Composed of highland 
banditti, most of whom are as destitute of Property as they are of 
Principle, and none of whom you will ever see unless as fugitives im- 
ploring protection. 

Tho' you should come up before the Tovv^n you can not expect any 
other answer than what we now give you. 

We have not the least intention of opposing either your ships or 
Boats, unless you should attempt to injure us, and whenever you may 
think proper to treat the Inhabitants as his Majestie's officers did 
heretofore, we shall be happy to receive you in the manner which we 
always wish to receive those who have the honor to bear His Majestie's 

I am, by order of the Committee, 

Sir, Your Obt. Serv't. 

To Cap't. Parry. 

To the Magistrates and Inhabitants of the Town of Wilmington: 

I have been much surprised to receive an answer to my requisition 
directed to The Magistrates and Inhabitants of Wilmington, from a 
member of the lawfull Magistracy in the name and under the Traitorous 
Guise of a Combination unknown to the laws and Constitution of this 
Country, as if the Magistrates and Inhabitants of Wilmington chose 



rather to appear in the Garb of Rebellion than in the character of his 
Majestie's loyal and faithful subjects. 

The quantity of flour that I required for his Majestie's service I 
concluded, from the information I had received, that the Town of Wil- 
mington might have well supplied within the Time I appointed by my 
note and I should have been contented with the quantity that was 
obtainable. The requisition was not made, as the answer to it imports, 
for a prelude to the destruction of that Town, which has not been in 
contemplation, but was intended as a Test of the disposition of the 
Inhabitants, whose sense, I am willing to believe, is known to the 
little arbitrary Junto (stiling itself a Committee) which has presumed 
to answer for the People in this and other Instances. 

The Revilings of Rebellion, and the Gasconadings of Rebels are below 
the contempt of the loyal and faithful People whom I have most justly 
stiled Friends of Government and the forbearance of menaces I have 
little reason to consider as a mark of Respect from the Chairman of a 
Committee founded in usurpation and Rebellion. 

Jo. Martin. 

Sir: — The Committee of Wilmington have not only been chosen by the 
people but on the present occasion these very people (consisting of the 
freeholders) have been consulted on the propriety of their answer. 
That Committees are unknown to the Constitution, let those who have 
driven the people to that dreadful necessity account for. 

I may venture to assure your Excellency that the greater part of the 
People in arms against the Inhabitants of this country are, in the 
opinion of every gentleman and man of understanding, unworthy to be 
considered as respectable members of Society. That there may be some 
of them of a better sort embarked in a cause which, right or wrong, 
does them little honor, is a circumstance for which it is easy to account. 

The Inhabitants of this Town are extremely pleased to find that his 
Majestie's service is not in any immediate want of the flour which your 
Excellency thought proper to require, as it is impossible for them to 
comply, even in part. Whoever was your Excellencie's informant that 
the Town of Wilmington could now, or at any other period, procure so 
large a quantity in so short a time has grossly deceived you. 

The conduct of the inhabitants of this Town is well known to your 
Excellency, and you might have been long since assured that there did 
not want any new proof of their zeal for his Majestie's service on the 
one hand, or a firm attachment to their Liberties on the other. And 
whilst they are conscious of no Acts but those which tended to assert 
the rights of God and nature, they have reason to believe that they do 
not deserve the epithets of rebels and traitors with which your Excel- 
lency hath so liberally loaded them. 


Time alone must convince your Excellency that the Committee can 
not, for any interested purposes, condescend to convey an untruth 
which candor would be ashamed of. 

To the Magistrates and Inhabitants of Wilmington: 

As I am informed it is inconvenient to supply his Majestie's sloop 
Cruizer with salt provisions, must beg you will send a few quarters of 
good beef. Fran's. Parry. 

Cruizer, Wilmington River, Feb. 28, 1776. 

It was on the 5th of Alay and while the great fleet was lying 
off Fort Johnston, that CHnton, the British commander-in-chief, 
under whom was Lord Cornwallis, issued the celebrated procla- 
mation to the people of North Carolina, offering pardon to 
all who would return to their allegiance to the Crown, but 
specifically excepting from the offer Robert Howe and Cornelius 
Harnett, who were particularly obnoxious because of their 
active and continuous opposition to the measures of the govern- 
ment from the very beginning of the Revolution, the one now 
being a Brigadier General of troops in the field, and the other 
the chief civil officer of the State. 

This was the first appearance of Cornwallis in the South, 
and seven days after the issue of the proclamation, on Sunday 
May 1 2th, he began his career by landing nine hundred men 
at Orton with the intention of capturing an outpost of one 
hundred and fifty men under Maj. Wm. Davis of the first 
Regiment, Continental Line, who were stationed at the mill 
on that plantation ; but Davis's pickets gave the alarm in time, 
and he retired, taking his supplies with him, after killing one, 
wounding several, and capturing a sergeant of Cornwallis's 
celebrated 33rd Regiment. After burning the mill, Cornwallis 
went two or three miles down to General Howe's plantation 
at Howe's Point, which he plundered, carrying away as the 
spoils of his warfare about twenty steers for his beef-eaters. 

After this exploit five of the seven regiments occupied Fort 
Johnston, one was stationed on Baldhead, and the other re- 
mained aboard ship.'^ There was a camp of Americans not 

Martin 1,534. 


very far from Fort Johnston which the British might have at- 
tacked, the main force of the former being in and near Wil- 
mington, and it may be that they did attack it, as that would 
account for the tradition that a sharp fight occurred, in which 
much blood was spilled, on the margin of "Liberty Pond," a 
half mile or so in rear of the town of Brunswick, although 
it is more probable that the skirmish with Major Davis's pickets 
is what the tradition refers to. 

Clinton concluded to abandon a campaign in North Carolina 
and to proceed to attack Charleston. He left some vessels, 
however, in the Cape Fear, and taking Governor Martin with 
him he set sail for that city in the latter part of the month 
which he had so fruitlessly spent in this State. 

About the same time the Provincial Congress, having by 
resolutions nominated a number of persons from the different 
districts to be a Council of Safety, these persons concluded to 
hold their first session at Wilmington, and accordingly as- 
sembled there on the 5th of June, when Cornelius Harnett was 
unanimously elected President of the Council, and they at 
once proceeded to business. Evidently when this meeting was 
appointed to be held it was supposed that Clinton would still 
be in the river, and it was a bold act of defiance to him, 
but although, as just stated, there were some of his ships still in 
the river, he had just sailed for Charleston, where he arrived 
on the 7th. 

The Council of Safety continued in session from the 5th 
to the 15th inclusive, and then adjourned to meet at the resi- 
dence of Mr. William Whitfield, on Neuse River in Dobbs 
County, on the 19th. Their proceedings during their stay in 
Wilmington were interesting, and almost exclusively directed 
to the appointment and transfer of officers to and from dif- 
ferent regiments, and similar military preparations, but they 
also took time to look after certain disaffected ones of the 
gentler sex who, with their families, were ordered to remove 
from Wilmington at least twenty miles up the river within 


eight days, and directed General Moore to see to the execution 
of the order. 

During CHnton's stay, General Moore, who was vigilantly 
preparing for any movement of the enemy, vigorously drilled 
his command twice a day. He did not go in person to par- 
ticipate in the defense of Charleston, but about June ist, sent 
two of his regiments, Nash's and Martin's, which distin- 
guished themselves and gained great reputation by their gal- 
lant conduct, winning high praise from Gen. Charles lyce, com- 
mander-in-chief, who, in his report, pronounced them ''ad- 
mirable soldiers." General Moore remained in Wilmington 
all the summer, keeping a watch on the enemy, several of 
whose ships were still in the river and a detachment of whose 
troops were still on Bald Head. In the latter part of Sep- 
tember, however, the British, after burning two of the tenders 
and the sloop of war "Cruizer," took their departure from the 
Cape Fear, to return no more for several years, as the war had 
been transferred to the north. 

Thus the strictly Revolutionary history of the county of 
New Hanover ceased to be especially interesting until the be- 
ginning of the year 1781. But in the meantime the utmost 
vigilance was practiced to suppress threatened insurrection by 
the Tories, who were constantly instigated by British emis- 
saries to give trouble. Among the emissaries in 1779 was 
George Carey, British naval officer, who "came in a vessel 
to the Cape Fear under a flag of truce, to distribute manifestoes 
offering terms of settlement to the people without regard to 
continental or State authorities. He was promptly seized and 
thrown into jail by Francis Clayton and John Walker."* 

In May, 1780, Charleston having been surrendered and the 
movements of the British toward our southern border being 
imminent, there was a general exodus of the people from that 
region. Mr. Iredell, writing to his wife from New Bern on the 
2ist of May, says: ''The people in this State are very much 
distressed and everywhere flying from home. Wilmington is 

State Records, XIII, 296. 


crowded with some of the first famiHes. Fourteen ladies are 
said to have arrived there last Friday, and several were there 
before," and on the 28th, wTiting from Mr. Hooper's residence 
on Masonboro Sound, he says : ''Col. Washington's Light 
Horse have fled to Wilmington, and are now there and will 
be, I suppose, joined to-day by a legion of about 200, part horse 
and part foot, commanded by one Col. Armand, who is on his 
way from the northward."* 

Mich. Gorman, writing from New Bern, September 5th, to 
Governor Nash, says : 

"Stanley's ship" (the General Nash) "has arrived at Wil- 
mington and brought in two armed Brigs, one from Greenock 
in Scotland, with the most valuable cargo ever imported into 
this State, the other from St. Kitts with dry goods, rum, sugar 
and fruit." This cargo of the prize from Scotland was esti- 
mated by him to be worth fifteen thousand pounds sterling. -j- 

On the 29th of January, 1781, Major Craig, of the British 
army, an officer on the staff of General Burgoyne, arrived in 
Wilmington with about five hundred men and escorted by three 
men of war and some galleys. The men of war were the 
Blonde, 36 guns, the Delight, 16 guns, and the Otter, 16 guns. 
He came expecting to cooperate with the Tory forces of the 
upper Cape Fear in weakening the opposition to Cornwallis 
by drawing away some of the American troops, but his ex- 
pectations were not realized. Cornwallis, retreating after the 
battle of Guilford Court House, arrived in Wilmington, April 
7th, despondent and with a badly crippled force, and at the 
same time General Green returned to recover South Carolina. 
Cornwallis remained in Wilmington until the 24th April, when 
he set out for Virginia, where he afterwards surrendered at 
Yorktown. During his stay in Wilmington he occupied the 
residence (still standing) on the southwest corner of Third 
and Market street, opposite St. James's church, and his cavalry 
occupied the church for their headquarters. 

The best contemporary account of the treatment of the 

* McRee, I, 453. t State Records, XV, 71-72. 


people along- the route of Cornwallis's march to Virginia is 
contained in the letters of William Dickson, of Duplin County, 
which were published in 1901 by J. O. Carr, Esq., a member 
of the Wilmington Bar, and a descendant of Mr. Dickson's 

After describing Craig's attack on LilHngton at the great 
bridge hereafter mentioned and the result of the battle of 
Guilford Court House and Cornwallis's retreat to Wilmington, 
Mr. Dickson says : 

"Cornwallis arrived at Wilmington, and General Greene, 
being gone to South Carolina, seemed to strike terror on our 
militia then at their post. General LiHington, who then com- 
manded the post at the great bridge, ordered our retreat from 
that to Kinston on the Neuse River, about thirty miles above 
New Bern, where on the 28th of April he discharged all the 
militia except one company to guard the artillery and stores. 
The militia, thus discharged (we had not the name of any army 
in North Carolina) every man was now to look to himself. 
The next day after being discharged we returned home. Corn- 
wallis's army was then in the middle of our county, encamped 
at my brother, Robert Dickson's, plantation. The whole 
country was struck with terror ; almost every man quit his habi- 
tation and fled, leaving his family and property to the merci- 
less enemies. Horses, cattle and sheep, and every kind of stock 
were driven off from every plantation, corn and forage taken 
for the supply of the army, and no compensation given, houses 
plundered and robbed, chests, trunks, etc., broke, women and 
children's clothes, etc., as well as men's wearing apparel, and 
every kind of household furniture, taken away. The outrages 
were committed mostly by a train of loyal refugees, as they 
termed themselves, whose business it was to follow the camps, 
and under the protection of the army enrich themselves on 
the plunder they took from the distressed inhabitants, who 
were not able to defend it. We were also distressed by an- 
other swarm of beings (not better than harpies). These were 
women who followed the army in the character of officers' and 


soldiers' wives. They were generally considered by the in- 
habitants to be more insolent than the soldiers. They were 
generally mounted on the best horses and side-saddles, dressed 
in the finest and best clothes that could be taken from the in- 
habitants as the army marched through the country." 

He then tells how his brothers and their families were 
treated, and says that, not content with the ordinary plunder- 
ing, at his brother-in-law's house they "took away all the 
bedding, all the apparel, even the baby's clothes, stripped the 
rings off my sister's fingers, and the shoes and buckles off 
her feet, choked the children to make them confess if their 
father had not hid his money, and to tell where it was, etc., and 
many of the neighbors were treated in the same brutish 

Then for a short while after Cornwallis left, the Tories, 
thinking they had everything their own way, were, Mr. Dick- 
son says, "more cruel to the distressed inhabitants than Corn- 
wallis's army had been before," but as soon as both Corn- 
wallis and Craig were out of the way the men of Duplin 
gathered a small force of about eighty men, attacked them and 
wreaked so fearful a vengeance upon them that they never at- 
tempted to embody again.* 

Craig's arrival with the ships in the river, produced a panic, 
and there was, among the Whigs, a general exodus, but some 
considered it safe to leave their families, believing that they 
would not be subjected to indignities, or plundered. •(• Others, 
living out of town, fearing to trust their families to the danger 

* The writer has before him an original letter from Col. Wm. Caswell to Col. John Walker, 
dated May 2, 1781, and referring to the movement of Cornwallis's column on its march, of 
which the following is a copy. Colonel Walker ( generally called " Major Jack " ) had or- 
ganized the militia of New Hanover county not included in Lillington's brigade : 

Kingston, 2nd May, 1781. 

Deak Sih :— I am happy to have it in my power to acknowledge the receipt of your favor 
of yesterday's date, tho' nothing new in any of the movements of the enemy. I have an 
express just come into Camp Kingston who was in the rear of the enemy yesterday 
and saw them encamped at Capt. John Taylor's mill on Goshen, and they moved this 
morning. The remainder of General Lillington's brigade left yesterday for Pitt. 

By an express from General Greene of the 21st April, he says that he lays before the 
[ illegible ] Camden ; that he has not sufficient force to storm the place, nor has he batter- 
ing cannon to beat down their works, and the only way he can take the place will be by 
starving them. I am in haste, yours, &c., W. Caswell. 

t Thomas Bloodworth, Commissioner of specific taxes for New Hanover county, put on 
board a vessel all the stores, with vouchers and papers belonging to them, and sent them 
up the Northeast River, but Craig overtook and burned them. Bloodworth was, by act 
of the legislature in 1788, exempted from responsibility.— CoZoniaZ Reecords, XXI, 642. 


of marauding parties, removed them into the town, and among 
the latter was Mr. Hooper, who, in a letter to Mr. Iredell, said : 
''In an enemy's country, at all events, I thought it best to trust 
them to the mercy of the principal officers who would be at 
Wilmington and preserve some order there." He credited 
Craig with a virtue he did not possess, for that officer expelled 
Mrs. Hooper and other ladies from the town, forbidding them 
to use their carriages or other means of conveyance or to take 
with them anything but their wearing apparel ; but finally, after 
keeping them standing for hours under a hot sun, upon the 
solicitation of others allowed them to use a boat and an escort 
of a ten year-old boy to go up the river a few miles, where 
they got into communication with General Rutherford's out- 
post and were taken care of. 

There were many, and much worse, instances of cruelty and 
barbarism perpetrated by Craig and his command in and around 
Wilmington, one of the most notable of which was the treat- 
ment of Cornelius Harnett. Mr. Harnett was ill and suffering 
great pain at the house of Colonel Spicer, about thirty miles 
from Wilmington, at which place he was compelled by his 
condition, to stop on his wa}' to the interior of the State. 
Craig, having learned through a spy, (of whom there were 
many) where he was, sent a detachment to arrest him, for, 
although a citizen and not a soldier, he was the most obnoxious 
individual to the British in the country. Harnett, sick and 
suffering, was at first, according to tradition, compelled to walk 
beside the mounted men who captured him until he fell ex- 
hausted, and was then, according to the testimony of an eye- 
witness,^ brought into Wilmington "thrown across a horse 
like a sack of meal." From this treatment and his imprison- 
ment, from which he was released upon the intercession of 
loyalist friends, he soon died. 

With such examples set them by their commanding officer, 
it is no wonder that subordinates and common soldiers were 

* Dr. A. J. DeRosset, Sr., who frequently made this statement to his grandson, Colonel 
W. L. DeRosset, and other members of his family, by whom this is authorized. 


merciless in their conduct, one illustration of which was what 
has always been referred to as *'the massacre of the eight-mile 
house." This eight-mile house was on the lower or sound 
road from Wilmington to New Bern, and was a tavern kept 
by a man named Rouse. Some of the militia officers who were 
stationed in that neighborhood to keep a watch on the move- 
ments of the British, foolishly gathered there to have a frolic, 
and with strange disregard of consequences neglected to post 
sentinels. ''They were betrayed," McRee says, "by a mer- 
chant of Wilmington,""^ a party of dragoons swooped down on 
them, and in their defenceless condition, instead of capturing, 
literally butchered all except Lieutenant Love, who, according 
to one version of the affair, escaped, but according to another 
was killed and was buried under a mulberry tree by Timothy 
Bloodworth, who tried to rescue them on hearing the firing, 
but was too late.-j- 

These sudden expeditions of the cavalry were repeated in 
different directions from the town, and the town itself was 
protected by intrenchments, but although General Lillington, 
who commanded the militia, had not sufficient force to assault 
the works, the detachments under command of Colonel Kenan, 
of Duplin, Captain Alfred Moore, of Brunswick, and others 
were active in skirmishing and patrolling the surrounding 
country. Lillington, with the main body of his command, took 
post on the west side of the Northeast River at Heron's 
bridge, about ten miles above the town, and about the end of 
February Craig moved out at night with a strong force to 
attack him, and after driving away the outpost opened with 
artillery on his intrenchments across the river, but the militia 
stood the fire gallantly and made the woods ring with their 
rifles and shotguns, and after staying there two days without 

* He was disguised in British uniform, but was recognized, and was an object of scorn 
ever afterwards. 

t Our Living and Our Dead, for October, 1875. 

HISTORY OF Ni:w hanove:r county. 187 

crossing the river, Craig withdrew.* He built a field work at 
Rutherford's Mills, about seven or eight miles to the northeast 
of where this engagement occurred, and used the mills to 
grind the grain gathered from the adjoining plantations. -j- 

The conditions on the upper Northwest River, in Bladen, 
and the adjoining counties, were at this time terrible for the 
patriots, as the Tories who dominated that region were harry- 
ing them, destroying all their property, burning their houses, 
and murdering them. They were not only outnumbered but 
were unsupplied with arms and ammunition, while Craig abun- 
dantly supplied their enem.ies with both, and kept them en- 
couraged by assurances of success. It was almost as bad in 
Duplin, where, as Mr. Dickson wrote, they took numbers of 
citizens and carried them to Wilmington, where they died on 
prison ships. ;}: The smallpox raged there, and one of the 
victims of that disease was Gen. John Ashe, who had been 
wounded, captured and imprisoned, and a few days after his re- 
lease in October died from the effects of his treatment. His 
son, who had also been captured, was put in irons on a prison 
ship by Craig, who threatened to hang him and others. § 

All through the summer and fall of 1781, while Craig occu- 
pied Wilmington, engagements of a minor kind occurred, some 
of them being bloody, between the Tories and militia in Bladen, 
Duplin and New Hanover. 1 1 

As a specimen of the British reports of these engagements, 
we give the following, taken from the Royal Gazette, pub- 
Hshed at Charleston, S. C, September 8th, 1781, from which it 
will be evident that there were "war correspondents" at that 
time with largely developed powers of imagination : 

* Upon his withdrawal some of Lillington's officers crossed the river and burned the 
house he had occupied as headquarters, called Mount Blake, belonging to John McKenzie. 
At the December, 1790, session of the Legislature McKenzie memorialized that body ask- 
ing compensation, but was refused on the ground that Lillington did not authorize the 
hmniug.— State Records, XXI, 829. 

t McRee, T, 526. Also " Dickson Letters," the first of which gives a full account of the 
outrages perpetrated on the people of Duplin by the British. 

J Dickson Letters. 

§ Craig's letter to Governor Nash, State Records, XXII, 1024. 

[| In November Maj. Joseph Graham attacked and defeated 100 Tories at Buchoi, Alfred 
Moore's plantation, within three miles of Wilmington, killing and wounding twelve, and 
next day attacked "the brick house," still nearer town, unsuccessfully. 

1 88 HISTORY o]? NEW hanove:r county. 

Charleston, September 8. 

On Thursday an armed schooner arrived with dispatches from Wil- 
mington, after a passage of 23 hours. 

We have the pleasure to inform the Public, from very good authority, 
that Major Craig, after his gallant attack on the Rebels at Rockfish 
(when between 60 and 70 of the enemy were cut to pieces, and 31 made 
prisoners) directed his march towards Newbern in such an able manner 
as to prevent the junction of the several Rebel parties that were col- 
lected in the different counties to oppose him. Being informed on his 
arrival at William's Bridge, that a considerable body of General Lilling- 
ton's men were posted 6 miles below, he left the cannon and baggage 
under a guard, and notwithstanding his long march, proceeded to 
attack them, but the enemy having learnt his intentions, went off with 
some precipitation. The detachment halted and had just taken up 
their ground, when a few Rebel light horse were reported to be in the 
adjacent woods. Major Craig immediately pushed forward with the 
cavalry, consisting of forty-three men, officers included, and at about 
500 yards beyond his picquets, found a line of 250 chosen light horse, 
headed by their General Caswell, with every officer of rank or influence 
among them. Maj. Craig was within 30 yards of the enemy before he 
perceived their great number; he formed directly, sending for the 
Yagers and North Carolina Regiment to his support; but being justly 
apprehensive of their encircling his little party, and relying on the 
bravery and good conduct of the 82d. and Cap't. Gordon's Troops, 
without waiting for the Infantry, he ordered them to charge, which 
was immediately obeyed with the most distinguished alacrity. The 
Rebels gave their fire at 12 yards distance, which did not in the small- 
est degree check the ardour of the Troops, who rushed among and 
dispersed them, notwithstanding their great superiority, killing ten and 
taking the same number prisoners. Lieut. Dunlop, with the 82nd. 
Troop, pursued them above four miles with little effect, the whole of 
the Rebel Party being mounted on selected horses; a few being en- 
tangled in the swamps, fell into the hands of the Loyal Militia. It 
has since been understood that a very considerable number were 
wounded. Gen. Caswell escaped with difficulty. 

We have to lament the loss of that most deserving officer. Captain 
Gordon, of the Independent Troops, who was the only person killed on 
this occasion. His fall sensibly damps the satisfaction we feel at the 
inconsiderable loss on our side, in so very disproportionate a contest. 
One Quartermaster of the Legion, a sergeant and one private of the 
82d v/ere wounded, and 15 horses killed and wounded. 

The march of the Troops from thence to Newbern, which they reached 
on the 20th ultimo, was uninterrupted. A disposition for the defence 
of the Town had been made by Gallies and some Inhabitants, which had 


no other effect than causing the exchange of a few shot. The Town 
was taken possession of, and the Stores, consisting of above 3000 bushels 
of salt, and a large quantity of rum, with all the shipping and mer- 
chandise at the wharfs, were immediately destroyed. Major Craig 
intended remaining only two days, but getting information of Mr. 
Caswell's being posted with about 500 men at Coore's Creek, (18 miles 
from Town) intrenching himself, he moved with an intention to attack 
him. Mr. Caswell escaped about twenty minutes before his arrival. 
Finding it difficult to procure subsistence in that exhausted country. 
Major Craig returned to Rutherford's Mills to the Sound, on which he 
is now encamped. 

By the accounts from Wilmington we are happy to find, that the 
Inhabitants in general of iSTorth Carolina, are daily manifesting their 
attachment to His Majesty's Government, by joining in large bodies, 
even to the amount of 1200 men, and otherwise assisting in the sup- 
pression of this wicked and unnatural Rebellion. 

The most notable of these engagements was the splendid 
performance at Elizabethtown on the night of the 29th of 
August, when about one hundred men under the lead of Col- 
onels Brown, Owen, Morehead, Robeson,* Irvine, Gillespie, 
Dickinson and Wright, who had been driven from the county 
by the Tories, returned, and fording the river below the town, 
made a furious attack just before dawn on the garrison, which 
consisted of about four hundred men commanded by Colonels 
Slingsby-j* and Godden, both of whom were killed, and about 
twenty of their men, while the loss of the attacking force was 
only one man wounded. The particulars of this desperate 
undertaking as given by Caruthers and others constitute one 
of the most thrilling episodes of the war. A number of 

* Col. Thomas Robeson was a grandson of Andrew Robeson, of Scotland, who was a 
graduate of Oxford University, and emigrated to Pennsylvania, where he became a Coun- 
cilor of that Province and Chief Justice. His son Thomas, father of Colonel Robeson, 
came at a very early period to North Carolina, and settled in Bladen county, where he 
married Sarah Singletary, and settled on a plantation which he named Walnut Grove, 
and which is still in possession of his descendants. Colonel Robeson was born at Walnut 
Grove January 11, 1740. He and his brother Peter were at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. 
They were hated by the Tories, and in 1781 Fanning burned their houses, for which and 
other similar acts Peter wreaked such vengeance as gave him the sobriquet of "bloody 

The command of the patriot force at the battle of Elizabethtown, according to tradition, 
was held by Colonel Brown, but it is alleged that Colonel Brown was at that time suffer- 
ing from a wound, and that Colonel Robeson ( who was his brother-in-law) actually com- 
manded. Brown was the senior officer in rank and in age in his county. Colonel Robeson 
died May 21, 1785, and was buried at Council's Bluff in Bladen county. 

t Colonel Slingsby was an ancestor of that distinguished family of educators in North 
Carolina, the Binghams, and was as highly esteemed by the Whigs as by the Tories for 
his magnanimous and kindly spirit. 


patriots who had been captured by the Tories, and were held 
by them at the time of the assault, were released, and valuable 
supplies, including a large amount of arms, ammunition, and 
other greatly needed supplies, were taken. The victory was 
a death blow to the Tories in that part of the country, and 
greatly revived the spirits of the patriots. 

A perpetual memento of this brilliant action is still pre- 
served in a deep ravine in which the panic-stricken garrison 
took refuge, and which has ever since been called "the Tory 

General Rutherford, who had for some time been a pris- 
oner in Florida, returned and resumed command of the forces 
on the upper Cape Fear, and determined to invest Wilmington, 
which he did, establishing his camp near the same bridge on 
the Northeast River where Lillington had the skirmish with 
Craig in February. While waiting there to complete his ar- 
rangements for driving Craig out of the town. General 'Xight 
Horse Harry" Lee arrived on the i8th November at the camp 
on his way to General Greene in South Carolina, and brought 
the news of CornwalHs's surrender on the 19th of October, and 
on the same day Craig evacuated Wilmington, and Rutherford 
marched in before the vessels carrying Craig's force had got 
out of sight down the river. And thus ended the actual mili- 
tary operations on the lower Cape Fear. 



About the year 1730 a little settlement was begun on the 
east side of the Cape Fear River opposite the junction of its 
two main branches, which was dignified by the name of New 

In 1732 the name was changed to Newtown or Newton. In 
1733 John Watson obtained a grant for 640 acres adjoining the 
settlement on the north, and James Wimble, Joshua Granger, 
Michael Dyer and others obtained other grants, and these per- 
sons laid out the town. In 1734 the English traveler, men- 
tioned in the first chapter, spent the night ''in a hut" there. 

On November 2, 1734, Governor Gabriel Johnston began his 
administration of the Province, and in the following March 
began to carry into execution his purpose to destroy the town 
of Brunswick and the influence of its founders by establish- 
ing Newton as its successful rival, just as Burrington had 
previously attempted. Johnston completely succeeded, and ex- 
perience proved the wisdom of the change, although the motive 
for it was selfish and the method of effecting it — by packing 
the Council to make a tie and allowing the President, after 
voting to make the tie, to cast another vote to break it and 
give a majority for Newton — was an arbitrary and unjust pro- 
ceeding which reflected no honor on those engaged in it, and 
afforded the first sample of ''machine" politics in our history. 

Having ordered a meeting of the Council, a term of the 
Court of Oyer and Terminer, a Court of Exchequer, and the 
opening of a land office there, all on the 13th of April, 1735, 
he proceeded to buy property there, and some of his Council 
and other friends did the same, which gave a great impetus 
to the movement in favor of Newton. He supplemented this 
local action by active correspondence with persons in England, 
Scotland and Ireland, in which he held out strong inducements 


to immigration to the Cape Fear, and in the course of the 
year these immigrants began to arrive, but only a few settled 
in Newton, most of them being desirous of becoming land- 
holders, and planters. 

Like other Governors (and notably among them his succes- 
sor. Governor Dobbs), Johnston brought over with him some 
friends, the most deserving of whom, perhaps, was James 
Innes, a soldier and man of high character, who afterwards 
became the most prominent military officer of the Province, 
and of whom we have already spoken in a previous chapter. 
Innes bought land in Newton, as Johnston and some of his 
other friends did, and got one or more grants for large tracts 
in the country on the Black River and the Northeast branch 
of the Cape Fear. 

At the session of the Assembly held at New Bern February 
25, 1739, among the private acts passed was one entitled "An 
Act for erecting the village called Newton, in New Hanover 
County, into a town and township by the name of Wilmington, 
and regulating and ascertaining the bounds thereof" — the new 
name having been suggested by the Governor in honor of the 
Earl of Wilmington — and at the next session of the Assembly, 
held August 21, 1740, "An Act for the further and better 
regulation of the town called Wilmington, in New Hanover 
County ; and to establish the Church of the parish of St. James, 
to be built in the said town" was passed. In 1741 the Assem- 
bly met in Wilmington, but no acts of any importance were 
passed, and none affecting the interests of the town. 

As an evidence of the progress made in trade and business 
on the Cape Fear at the time Wilmington was established, 
Governor Johnston reported that during the year ending De- 
cember 12, 1734, forty two ships had gone out of the river 
loaded. This, of course, indicated returns either of cash or 
imported goods, but the domestic business, because of the 
scarcity of money, was conducted chiefly by barter and ex- 
change of commodities. 

Between 1740 and 1748 four different invasions of the 


Province by Spanish vessels occurred, but only the last one 
affected the people of Wilmington especially. This, which hap- 
pened in September, 1748, has been described in a former 
chapter, and the only memorial of it is the painting that still 
hangs in the vestry room of St. James's church. 

When Governor Dobbs took charge of the Government, in 
1754, he reported the population of Wilmington to consist of 
seventy families, while the population of Brunswick had been 
reduced to twenty families. In regard to the commerce on 
the Cape Fear, he said: "Above one hundred vessels annu- 
ally enter this river and their number is increasing; there 
were sixteen in the river when I went down." 

In 1760 Wilmington was erected into a borough and the 
municipal government was entitled ''The Mayor, Recorder, 
and Aldermen of the Borough of Wilmington." In 1764 an 
act was passed "for regulating the proceedings in the court 
held for the borough of Wilmington." Two years later, in 
1766, the name of the municipality was changed to "Commis- 
sioners of the Town of Wilmington." (It is worthy of remark 
that just one hundred years afterwards, in 1866, the name 
was finally changed by the incorporation of "The City of 

The first meeting of a public kind of which we have any 
record was held April 5, 1743, at which the freeholders met 
to elect commissioners for the ensuing year, as prescribed by 
the Act of Assembly, on which occasion they elected five 
gentlemen; but on the 27th of April there was a call for a 
general meeting of the inhabitants and freeholders to concert 
measures for laying out the streets of the town in a more ex- 
act manner, in which meeting the elected commissioners seem 
to have been ignored (with one exception) and three commis- 
sioners were selected, who were empowered to agree with a 
proper surveyor and necessary assistants to re-survey the streets, 
and fix proper stakes, etc. To meet the cost of the re-survey a 
subscription was made, but the commissioners were forbidden 
to complete the negotiations until they gave three days notice 


at the court-house of the time and place appointed for mak- 
ing such agreement, when the consent of the subscribers should 
be necessary to complete it — a very conservative start toward 
municipal improvement, it must be admitted. Before even 
doing this much, however, the freeholders got Michael Hig- 
gines, one of the original proprietors, to make a sworn state- 
ment in regard to the original survey, which he did in the fol- 
lowing deposition, which, as an interesting bit of authentic 
contemporary evidence, should be perpetuated: 

North Carolina, New Hanover County. 

Michael Higgines, late of the town of Wilmington, Ordinary Keeper, 
at the request of many of the inhabitants and freeholders of the said 
town, maketh oath that in the year of our Lord 1733, John Watson, 
planter, was possessed of a tract of land containing 640 acres by virtue 
of a warrant from Governor Burrington, beginning at John Maultsby's 
line to Col, Halton's line, then along his line south to the corner 
thereof and thence several courses down the northeast branch of the 
Cape Fear River; that in March or April, 1733, he, this deponent, and 
Joshua Granger, Sr., bought of the said John Watson fifty acres, part 
of the said tract of land, beginning at a tree which then grew in a 
hollow where Wm. Faris' tar house now stands, fronting down the river 
near a quarter of a mile, and running back for the complement; that 
on or about the said month of April, James Wimble, Mariner, bought 
of the said John Watson the remaining part of the said tract that was 
below the land purchased by this deponent and Mr. Granger ; and this 
said tract was divided between John Watson, (who still continued to 
possess the other upper part of it,) this deponent, Joshua Granger and 
James Wimble. And the said John Watson, this deponent, Joshua 
Granger and James Wimble, in the month of April or thereabouts, 
entered into an agreement to lay out part of the said tract of land into 
lots and streets for a town, and to fix a centre in the Market St. where 
the town house now stands, and the same was accordingly laid out, on 
or about the said month of April, by William Gray, Surveyor, in the 
following manner, viz: "Beginning at a place where now lies the 

threshold of the north door next to the house, now possessed 

by Hugh Blanning, thence running northwest three poles, which station 
was agreed and fixed upon by us, said place to be the middle of Market 
Street aforesaid, and as the course of the said street was a half point 
north and this deponent having now reviewed the front street of the 
said town, saith: "That he verily believes that the post standing in 
the northeast corner of the yard possessed by Hugh Blanning, is ex- 


actly in the western line of Front Street, which street was run at right 
angle with Market St. of the width of four poles and all the other streets 
in the bounds of the then intended town were laid out four poles wide, 
and were exactly parallel either to Front Street or Market Street 
before ascertained, and that all the lots aforesaid were of the length of 
20 poles with a breadth of four poles except the water lots, which 
were likewise four poles wide down to the low water mark." And this 
deponent further saith: "That when the said Surveyor, running along 
Front Street, went down steep or declining places, he ordered the chief 
chain-bearer to hold up the chain and the other one to hold down the 
chain and to the contrary in going up; in order and with the intention 
that all the lots might be of equal breadth," further saith not. 

Sworn and subscribed by Michael Higgines, on the 9th of May, 1743, 
before me. Ja. Murray, J. P. 

In pursuance of the agreement the freeholders employed 
Jeremiah Vail to make the re-survey ''agreeable to the oath of 
Michael Higgines, and that the said surveyor be upon oath to 
da the same justly and truly without fraud," for the sum of 
one hundred and fifty pounds; and on the 12th of July they 
petitioned the Assembly to establish the town in accordance 
with Vail's survey, which was done by the Act of 1745, "for 
the better regulating the town of Wilmington and for con- 
firming and establishing the late survey of the same, with the 
plan annexed." 

On November 30, 1745, Richard Hellier was appointed town 
clerk, the market was ordered to be kept under the town house 
temporarily, and excellent regulations for it and against fore- 
stalling were made. The method of improving the streets was 
to call out all the "taxables" at stated periods, who had to 
appear at the court-house at six o'clock in the morning with 
the necessary tools and work from three to six days accord- 
ing to the necessities of the case, and, strange to say, they 
were required to work not only on the streets and bridges of the 
town (of which latter there were a good many) but also on 
the opposite side of the river on the road from Point Peter 
up to Mount Misery. 

The taxes were not levied by the commissioners of the town, 
but apparently by a vote of the inhabitants, as such entries 


as the following are found, viz: ''A majority of the inhabitants 
having agreed to a tax pf ," etc. ; and again, "Wm. Robinson 
and a majority of the inhabitants having agreed to a tax," etc. 
(Why Wm. Robinson mid a majority were required is beyond 
us, although we cheerfully acknowledge the great antiquity 
and title to precedence of that name.) 

In the years 1755 and 1756 the people seemed to be much 
exercised on the subject of fires, several having occurred, and 
they laid a special tax on every house in the town to buy an 
engine, and appointed night watches to prevent further dam- 
age. The fire engine, which was ordered through Capt. Ben- 
jamin Heron, cost (with freight and insurance) one hundred 
and thirty one pounds and fourteen shillings. The fires do not 
seem to have been incendiary, but from foul chimneys, and a 
penalty of forty shillings was imposed upon every person 
whose chimney caught afire. Mr. Alexander Duncan con- 
tracted to keep the fire engine and hose "in order and oyld, 
and to play it once a month," for which care two of his family 
were exempt from working on the streets. 

It was on the 15th of January, 1760, that Governor Dobbs 
issued the letters patent erecting the town into a borough, the 
government to consist of a Mayor, Recorder and eleven Alder- 
men, out of the latter of whom the Mayor was to be elected 
by the freeholders on the first Monday of each January. The 
first Mayor elected was John Sampson ; the first Recorder, 
Marmaduke Jones, and the first Aldermen, William Dry, Cor- 
nelius Harnett, John Lyon, Frederick Gregg, Caleb Granger, 
Daniel Dunbibin, Arthur Mabson and Moses John DeRosset. 

On the 3d of January, 1763, Frederick Gregg was elected 

On the 3d January, 1764, for some inexplicable cause, the 
freeholders are recorded as having chosen commissioners in- 
stead of a Mayor, Recorder and Alderman, but on the 29th of 
the next January the record says ''the Mayor, Aldermen and 
Freeholders of Wilmington convened in common council at 
the court-house," Gregg being still Mayor, but a different lot 


of Aldermen attending. It was at this meeting that the fol- 
lowing refreshing resolution was adopted : "Resolved, That 
the following rule be observed by the Mayor, Recorder, Alder- 
men and Freeholders in all debates : That the party speaking 
should not leave the subject in debate to fall upon the person 
of any member of the Common Council, or other person ; and 
whereas great abuses are daily committed by mixing milk 
with water and other such mixtures and afterwards exposing 
such milk for sale in the said borough, be it therefore 
ordained/' etc.! 

On th€ 6th of January, 1766, Caleb Mason, one of the 
Aldermen, was elected Mayor, but refused to qualify and re- 
signed on the 14th at a meeting called for that purpose, and 
on the 20th Moses John DeRosset was chosen to that office. 
This occurred at the culmination of the excitement about the 
Stamp Act — the two vessels, the Dobbs and the Patience, hav- 
ing been seized on the 14th — and justifies the suspicion that 
Mason preferred "the calm sequestered vale of life" to the cares 
of office at so critical a period, while it reflects great honor on 
DeRosset, in that it showed the confidence of the people in his 
courage and capacity, a confidence fully justified by his con- 
duct as Mayor, and his manly letter to Governor Tryon. 

On the nth of February the Mayor, Recorder and Alder- 
men, having been directed to elect a Representative from the 
borough to the General Assembly, the Mayor certified that 
Cornelius Harnett had been unanimously chosen, and on the 
23d of June, William Hooper was elected Recorder in place 
of Marmaduke Jones, resigned. 

Mayor DeRosset died in 1767, and in 1768 (for some reason 
unknown, as there is a gap in the record from June, 1766, to 
January, 1768,) the authorities of the town again resumed the 
name of Commissioners, and continued under that name, one 
of the notable performances of the Commissioners being at 
their meeting on the 14th day of June, 1774, when it was 

"Ordered, that a Ducking Stool be provided for the use of 
the town, and that same be paid for out of the town tax." 


So that, regardless of their pending Revolution, the fathers 
of the town would have a little fun, even in an official way. 

The first press and the first newspaper were established in 
Wilmington in 1764, when Andrew Stewart, who had come 
from Philadelphia, where he had a press and book shop, issued 
in September of that year, the first number of the North 
Carolina Gazette and Weekly Post Boy. He started well, but 
in a year or two fell into disgrace because of some serious 
charge against him, and for want of support the paper failed 
and was discontinued in 1767. Stewart was drowned while 
bathing in the river in 1769.'^ 

The first political pamphlet known to have been issued from 
a North Carolina press, was one written by Judge Maurice 
Moore, and published by Stewart in 1766, entitled: 

"Justice and policy of taxing the American Colonies in Great Britain 
considered; wherein is showed that the Colonists are not a conquered 
people; that they are constitutionally entitled to be taxed only by 
their own consent; and that the imposing a stamp duty on the Colonists 
is as impossible as it is inconsistent with their rights — ISfon sibi sed 

"By Maurice Moore, Esquire, Wilmington, N. C. Printed by Andrew 
Stewart, and sold at his office near the Exchange 1766." 

This pamphlet is in the archives of the University of North 

The second newspaper was started in the following October 
by Adam Boyd, who had bought Stewart's press and material, 
and his paper was called the Cape Pear Mercury. Exactly 
how long he continued to publish it is not known, but it ap- 
pears, from the proceedings of the Safety Committee of Wil- 
mington on the 30th of January, 1775, that he applied to them 
for encouragement to his newspaper ''some time ago laid 
aside," and received their support on certain terms. Governor 
Martin, on the 8th of August, issued a proclamation in which 
he said, referring to the action of the people of Mecklenburg 
in May preceding, "1 have also seen a most infamous publi- 

Weekg, The Press in North Carolina. 


cation in the Cape Fear Mercury," etc., which shows that the 
Mercury still existed in the summer of 1775. 

Adam Boyd deserves miore than a passing notice. He was 
the son of Adam Boyd and his wife, Jane Craighead, and 
camic to Wilmington from Pennsylvania prior to January, 
1764, as appears from one of his letters, in which he says he 
was initiated in the Masonic lodge there in January, 1764; 
that Peter Mallett and Colonel DeKeyser were in the lodge 
with him, and that on St. John's Day, 1770, "at the dinner at 
Emmet's house, a little back from the street," he and Mr. 
London acted as stewards. He had been a Presbyterian licen- 
tiate, but not an ordained minister. He early joined the Con- 
tinental army, first as ensign, then became lieutenant, and 
finally, chaplain. At the close of the war he helped to organize 
the North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati at their first meet- 
ing at Hillsborough in October, 1783, was appointed secre- 
tary of the society and its first brigade chaplain.* In 1788 he 
was ordained a minister of the Episcopal church by Bishop 
Seabury and officiated for a short time at St. James's church 
in Wilmington, although ,not the actual rector. Dr. Boyd was 
a great sufferer from^ asthma, which was aggravated by the 
climate of Wilmington, and removed to Augusta, Ga., where 
he served as minister from 1790 to 1799, and died at Natchez, 
Miss., in 1803. He married the widow of Moses John De- 
RossGt, the Mayor of Wilmington during the Stam.p Act 
troubles, and was esteemed a very good man and true patriot, 
but in his old age became the victim of money-sharks and 
was robbed of his last resource, the land granted to him for his 
Revolutionary services. -j- 

Dr. Boyd's letter, from Natchez, Dec. 30, 1802, to Dr. De- 
Rosset, asking him to send Boyd's certificate of membership 
in thej Masonic lodge in Wilmington, into which he was 
initiated in January, 1764, suggests a notice of that venerable 
institution. It is said that the first charter for a Masonic lodge 

* "The N. C. Society of the Cincinnati," Gen. Charles L. Davis, 
t Annals of the DeRosset Family, Mrs. C. DeR. Meares. 


in the Province was for a lodge at Brunswick, in 1733, called 
King Solomon Lodge, of which Benjamin Smith, who was 
afterwards Grand Master and Governor of the State, was a 
member, but that the records of that lodge were destroyed. 
On the records of the Grand Lodge of England, under date of 
March, 1755, there is an entry of the grant of a charter to a 
lodge ''213 at Wilmington on the Cape Fear River in the Prov- 
ince of North Carolina," but whether that was for the lodge 
that later met at Hooper's residence on Masonboro Sound, or 
the original Wilmington Lodge, which was re-chartered in 1794, 
and has ever since borne the name of St. John's Lodge, No. i, 
(the oldest one in the State) or whether the two were one and 
the same, is not known, as the earliest records were lost, as were 
the records of the Grand Lodge of the State, in 1787. The 
miost distinguished men of the Cape Fear region belonged to 
this lodge. Hooper, Harnett, Maclaine, Lillington, Edward 
Jones, Joshua G. Wright and many others were members. 

The lodge had erected a building in Wilmington as early as 
1758, which was valued for taxation that year at one hundred 
and forty pounds, and which, tradition says, was located on 
Red Cross street. They built, in 1803, the house on the south 
side of Orange street, between Front and Second streets, after- 
wards owned by Thomas W. Brown (and which is still stand- 
ing and owned by one of his family), and held their meetings in 
it from that date until 1843, when St. John's Lodge building 
was erected on the north side of Market street, between Front 
and Second streets. 


The church buildings in Wilmington and in Brunswick were 
both authorized to be constructed by the Act of 1751, although 
the establishment of the two parishes had been provided for 
some years earlier. In giving the history of St. Philip's at 
Brunswick, as we have done in the first chapter, the history of 
St. James's at Wilmington was necessarily given, the same 
ministers as a rule during that period having served both 


parishes. There was no other church building in either town 
prior to the Revolution nor until some years after it. 

The original church of St. James was not to be compared to 
the edifice at Brunswick, which was the most imposing one in 
the Province. It was a plain, barn-like brick building, destitute 
of the least pretension to architectural beauty, which, perhaps, 
the more readily reconciled the consciences of the British 
cavalry officers in using it for barracks during their occu- 
pation of the town in 1781. The lot on which it was built was 
at the southwest corner of Market and Fourth streets, and 
had been used for a public burying ground. It was sold by 
Michael Higgines to James Smallwood, June 28, 1745, for 
two hundred pounds, and on the 12th July, 1749, Smallwood 
conveyed it, with the adjoining lot, to John Rutherford and 
Lewis DeRosset, wardens of St. James's parish, for the con- 
struction of the church. By the Act of 1752 thirty feet of 
Market street was allowed to be used for the site of it, and 
it stood there until 1839."^ 

The graveyard lying south of the old church was used as 
the common burying ground of the people of the town of all 
denominations for many years, and until Oakdale cemetery was 
established in 1853, the first burial in the latter being on the 
5th of February, 1854. 

Some of the great men of the Cape Fear were buried in the 
old St. James graveyard, and among them Cornelius Harnett, 
in 1 78 1, but, as heretofore stated, the planters generally were 
buried in their family graveyards, nearly all of which have 
gone to ruin, while many have wholly disappeared. This old 
graveyard has been the theme of numerous writers, as most of 
the ancient burying places in the country have been, and many 
traditions have been preserved in regard to it. One of these 
traditions was so well authenticated by the testimony of unim- 
peachable witnesses living at the time — which testimony was 
put in writing — and presents so remarkable a case of the fulfill- 

* William Farris, merchant, died in 1757, after leaving part of his estate to Cornelius 
Harnett and Marmaduke Jones, trustees, to be used in finishing the church. 


ment of a "vision" as to be worthy of record. The facts were 
recited by the late Col. James G. Burr, in a lecture delivered in 
the opera house in Wilmington February 3, 1890, and, stated 
in condensed form, were as follows : 

In March, 1810, Samuel R. Jocelyn,"son of a distinguished 
lawyer of the same name in Wilmington, and himself a prom- 
ising man — not long after conversing with his friend Alexander 
Hostler and others about the possibility of a man's returning to 
earth after death and making his presence known, and after 
making an agreement with Hostler that the first of the two who 
died should, if possible, reveal himself to the survivor — was 
killed by accident, and buried in St. James's churchyard. 
Hostler was greatly afflicted by the death of his friend, and, 
while sitting alone in his room a day or two after the funeral, 
was overwhehricd by the sudden appearance of Jocelyn, who 
said to him: "How could you let me be buried when I was 
not dead?" "Not dead?" exclaimed the horror-stricken sur- 
vivor. "No, I was not," replied his visitor; "open the coffin 
and you will see I am not lying in the position in which you 
placed me," and vanished immediately. Hostler, though 
greatly affected, believed he was the victim of delusion and 
tried to rid himself of it, but at the same hour on the next 
evening, and again at the same hour on the third evening, the 
apparition confronted him with the same mournful query. He 
then determined to exhume the body and see whether the fact 
was true or not. He told the story to Mr. Lewis Toomer, and 
asked his assistance in the disinterment, which he agreed to 
give. They went together at night and opened the grave, and 
upon removing the lid of the coffin and turning the light of a 
dark lantern on the body, discovered it lying face downward. 
Hostler commamicated the facts to Colonel Burr's mother, who 
was his near relative, and between whom and himself there was 
an affectionate intimacy, and Mr. Toomer told the facts of the 
disinterment in the presence of another venerable lady, Airs. C. 
G. Kennedv, v/ho put the statement in writing for Colonel Burr, 
who read it during the course of his lecture. 


Thomas Godfrey, author of the first American drama, "A 
Prince of Parthia," and whose history is an interesting one, 
is buried in St. James's churchyard. 


While the facts in regard to the educational interests of the 
people of the Province of North Carolina, like those of other 
provinces outside of New England, were lamentable, there was 
not such an absolute destitution of educational facilities as has 
sometimes been represented. The contrast has generally been 
drawn between the lack of schools here and the ample supply 
of them in New England, without considering the very marked 
differences in the circumstances that surrounded the settlement 
of these respective colonies. 

New England was settled by clusters of families, who from 
the beginning organized communities ; North Carolina v/as 
settled by individuals, with or without families, in very small 
groups, or separate from each other. New England was 
settled by people of the same religious faith and the same social 
ideas; North Carolina was settled by people of every kind of 
faith, and different social customs. 

From the start, towns were established in New England ; no 
town was established in North Carolina until 1704 when Bath 
was settled, and there were only twelve houses in it. A little 
later Beaufort was laid out, and still later New Bern. The 
population of North Carolina was composed of English Church- 
men, Roman Catholics, Baptists, Scotch and Scotch-Irish Pres- 
byterians, French Protestants, German Lutherans; and Quakers. 
They were distributed over a large territory, and their differ- 
ences of faith as well as their separation from each other was 
an insuperable barrier to the concentration of efforts to organize 
schools, such as existed in New England. Besides all this it 
was against the declared policy of the British authorities to 
encourage education among the people of North Carolina, ex- 
cept under restrictions that amounted to a practical prohibition 
of it. Among Governor Burrington's instructions from the 


home government in 1731 was one forbidding any schoolmaster 
to teach unless licensed by the Bishop of London, as well as 
by the Governor. 

There was no legislation in favor of schools until 1745, and 
nothing came of that. The first school actually put in opera- 
tion hy law was the school at New Bern, which was incor- 
porated in 1766, only ten years before the Revolution, and the 
master of this school was required to be a communicant of the 
Church of England, and the school itself to be subject to the 
control of that church, as also was the school later established 
at Edenton, in 1770. 

On the Cape Fear some of the earlier ministers taught 
schools. With the immigration of the Scotch, which began as 
early as the administration of Governor Johnston and continued 
up to 1775, school-teachers came, but they settled in the upper 
Cape Fear region and taught the children of their countrymen. 

Of course this brief discussion has been in reference to pub- 
lic schools authorized by law, or private schools established in 
communities and taught for pay, such as the classical school 
opened by Rev. James Tate in Wilmington in 1760. The first 
free school of which there is any record, and which was the 
first one founded by private benevolence, was the Innes 
Academy in Wilmington, named in honor of Col. James Innes, 
who left nearly all of his estate in 1759 to found it, and which 
was incorporated under that name. 

But these schools, public and private, by no means repre- 
sented all the educational facilities of the people, for there were 
private tutors in the families of the planters and wealthier 
citizens, and the sons of these families, when sufiiciently ad- 
vanced, were sent to Harvard or Princeton or to England 
for the completion of their education. A number of Wil- 
mington and lower Cape Fear boys were thus educated, some 
of them being sent to England when quite young and remain- 
ing there for years* Their fathers were in many cases well 

* General Waddell's three sons, after his death in 1773, were sent to England for their 
education, and the eldest one, returning in 1784, died and was buried at sea, the others re- 
maining several years. 


educated and cultured men, who owned good libraries and read 
much of the best literature. But the want of schools for popu- 
lar education was deplorable, and was a source of sincere and 
profound regret among the more enlightened, and a subject of 
remonstrance, repeated by successive Governors and other 


One of the early industries of Wilmington was that of ship- 
building. Several of the first settlers of the town engaged in 
the business, and one of the sites on which it was conducted is 
still so used, this being the shipyard originally founded by 
Joshua Granger at the foot of Church street. There was an- 
other established a little lower down by Michael Dyer, and two 
others, the sites of which are unknow^n, by James Wimble and 
Archibald Corbett, the latter of whom is recorded as having 
built a vessel for the Glasgow firm of Beard & Walker. ( Mat- 
thew Rowan, afterwards acting Governor of the Province, was 
a ship-builder and came to the Cape Fear for that purpose.) 
Wimble was master of a vessel, the brigantine "Penelope," and 
was also an excellent surveyor, whose map of the coast, made 
in 1738, is well known and was for a long time the most valu- 
able and accurate one in use. These ship-builders were at- 
tracted by the forest timbers generally, and especially by the 
plentiful supply of live oak, which far surpassed any other for 
their purpose, particularly in its adaptability for "knees" and 
the like. A very considerable part of the vessels trading to 
and from the Cape Fear, as appears by the Custom House 
records of Brunswick, one large volume of which still exists in 
a mutilated condition,"^' were entered as "plantation-built" to 
distinguish them from foreign -built ones. They were not large, 
their tonnage ranging from forty to one hundred and fifty tons, 
but they were well adapted to the coast and West Indies trade 
of that time, although a modern seaman would regard employ- 
ment on such craft as extra-hazardous. The exports were 

See Note, Chapter I. 


naval stores, lumber, staves, rice, indigo, hides and tobacco, and 
after the year 1735 the commerce increased rapidly, especially 
in the exportation of rice, the cultivation of which annually 
grew larger, and finally became the chief agricultural industry 
of the lower Cape Fear region. 

Indigo ceased to be cultivated after the Revolution, and later 
the cultivation of tobacco for commercial purposes was trans- 
ferred to the more western and northern sections of the State.* 


The public buildings of the town of Wilmington in the early 
days consisted of a town hall, situated at the intersection of 
Market and Second streets, which was a brick building of 
greater length than breadth, surmounted by a cupola, and hav- 
ing a market place under it, afterwards called the "mud market" 
to distinguish it from the market later erected in the middle of 
Market street between Front street and the river ; a court-house, 
which stood in the middle of the crossing at Front and Market 
streets, and which had three arches on each side and each end, 
on the ground floor, the middle ones open and the others closed 
by benches for the convenience of the public; a jail, which 
originally stood on the south side of Market street between 
Second and Third streets, but the locality of which was changed 
several times, and a custom-house on the river front at the 
foot of Nun street, south side. 

Neither of the Colonial Governors had a permanent residence 
in Wilmington, although Johnston bought property in the town, 
and Tryon seems to have occasionally occupied temporary 
quarters in it. Tradition has not been uniform as to the locality 
of the latter, one story giving the south side of Market street 
near the river, and another the north side of Dock near Second 
street, as the place. Fifth street was the boundary street, and 

* On 29th March, 1764, Governor Dobbs, in a long letter to the Board of Trade describ- 
ing the condition of the Province, says : "At Cape Fear, instead of having had all our 
flour from the northward they have increased in sowing wheat and erecting bolting mills 
[so] that they have of late exported several hundred barrels of flour to the West Indies, and 
have increased in their export of naval stores to 36,647 barrels per annum, and in lumber 
and scantling above 30,000,000 feet, having erected about forty sawmills on the branches 
of the Cape Fear river." 


on the earliest maps that part of Market street beyond Fifth 
was marked: ''Road to Newbern." 


As above stated, Wilmington was, by letters patent issued by 
Governor Dobbs, January 15, 1760, erected into a borough, 
but there is no record of an election of a borough representative 
to the Assembly until nth of February, 1766, when Cornelius 
Harnett was unanimously chosen. 

This borough representation was not abolished in the State 
until 1835, when the convention, called to amend the Constitu- 
tion, restricted the election of representatives to the counties, 
and did away with the old borough system. As long as it 
lasted Wilmington was represented by very able men, particu- 
larly in the earlier period when such men as Harnett, Hooper, 
Maclaine, Edward Jones, and Joshua G. Wright were elected ; 
the last named serving continuously for sixteen years, from 
1792 to 1809, when he was elected judge. The borough repre- 
sentatives were additional to those of the counties. 

When the Revolution ended, antagonisms almost as bitter as 
those existing between Whigs and Tories during its continuance 
arose in regard to various matters. A demagogical crusade 
against all lawyers was inaugurated, which doubtless had its 
origin in the time of the Regulators; there were disgraceful 
squabbles between the judges and sometimes between them and 
members of the bar; there were confiscations of the estates of 
persons who had been openly, or secretly, British sympathizers ; 
there were prosecutions for treason, but no executions of those 
accused; there was a strong feeling in favor of pardon and 
oblivion of the past, and an equally strong feeling against such 
clemency; there were the usual conflicts of personal ambition 
among public men, and radical differences in regard to matters 
of public administration. 

These antagonisms were as fierce in the Cape Fear section as 
in any part of the State. x\s the time approached when the 
relations between the States and the general government had 


to be finally considered and established by a constitutional con- 
vention, these differences were crystallized by the formation of 
two political parties, one of which strenuously objected to con- 
ceding more than a very limited power to the Federal govern- 
ment, and the other equally anxious to invest that government 
with powers adequate to its proper administration. The latter 
were called Federalists, and the former Anti-Federalists, and 
afterwards Republicans. 

When the convention to consider the proposed Constitution 
of the United States was called to meet at Hillsborough in 
July, 1788, the first furious political campaign in our State was 
inaugurated. Mr. Hooper, one of the leaders of the Federalists, 
had removed his residence from' Wilmington (which borough 
he had represented for some years in the legislature) to Hills- 
borough, and was succeeded by Archd. Maclaine, another 
leading Federalist, who was elected a delegate to the convention 
from the town. Timothy Bloodworth, the most active Anti- 
Federalist in New Hanover, was also elected from the county. 
He was a devoted follower of Willie Jones, the leader of that 
party and "the most influential politician in the State," and of 
General Thomas Person, another radical Republican who, ac- 
cording to the testimony of a respectable witness, denounced 
General Washington as "a. damned rascal and traitor to his 
country for putting his hand to such an infamous paper as the 
new Constitution."* Thus New Hanover was represented in 
the convention by two men who were, and had been for some 
time, bitter political enemies. Maclaine was a leader of the 
bar, and much the more cultured of the two, but did not pos- 
sess the poise and good nature of Bloodworth, who was a 
much better politician. Prior to the election Maclaine published 
an address, and gave free rein to his tongue ; and in his private 
correspondence with his political allies his pen was dipped in 
gall and sparkled with satire and humor. As a specimen of the 
latter he thus refers to one of the best and most useful men of 

McRee, II, 225. 


the period, the Rev. James Tate, who opened the first classical 
school in Wilmington. 

"Parson Tate has picked up all the arguments, good or bad, 
that have been published against the new form of government. 
The only original objection he had was the want of a mint in 
each State ; this, he alleges is a never-failing mark of sover- 
eignty, and is to keep the money with us; he appears to be 
greatly distressed that we shall be obliged to send our bullion 
to the seat of government. It is indeed truly distressing.""^ 

Maclaine and Bloodworth had some sharp encounters in the 
convention,, but all the logic and eloquence of Iredell, and 
Johnston, and Maclaine and others was unavailing, and the con- 
vention, by a large majority, (184 to 84), refused to adopt 
the Constitution, although it was adopted the next year, when 
its opponents found that a continued refusal by North Carolina 
to become a member of the Union meant ruin to the State. 

One of the questions considered by the convention of 1788, 
was the location of a site for the permanent capital of the 
State, and Bloodworth, although it was confidently expected by 
the Cape Fear people that he would vote in favor of Fayette- 
ville (which was the choice of an overwhelming majority of 
them), grievously disappointed them by voting in favor of a 
place "in the vicinity of the farm of Isaac Hunter" in Wake 
County, which place was chosen and the City of Raleigh was 
built upon it. 

The convention of 1789 and the Legislature both met in 
Fayetteville on the same day, November 2d, and among other 
things, the legislature ordered elections for members of the 
National Congress, and Bloodworth was one of those chosen. 
He was afterwards (1795) elected to the United States Senate 
by a majority of one over Alfred Moore and, upon his retire- 
ment after one term, was comfortably provided for by his ap- 
pointment to the office of Collector of the Port Wilmington. 

In the legislature of 1788 Edward Jones represented the 

* Maclaine to Iredell.— McRee, II, 217. 



borough of Wilmington, and Thomas Devane the county of 
New Hanover. Mr. Jones, who was a lovable man and a good 
lawyer, was elected by the next legislature to the newly estab- 
lished office of Solicitor General of the State. Mr. Devane 
was, as were several of his family in that and succeeding gen- 
erations, a planter of high character, and sound judgment. 

In the next year (1790) Mr. Hooper, who had so long served 
his State and country with great distinction, died at his home 
in Hillsborough, and very soon thereafter the able and fiery 
Maclaine also passed away, at his home near Wilmington. In 
1792 Joshua G. Wright, of New Hanover, a lawyer of ability 
and high character, began his public career as a member of the 
Legislature, and continued to represent the county until 1809, 
when he was elected judge. 

In 1795 Judge Samuel Ashe, of New Hanover, was elected 
Governor of the State, and brought to the performance of the 
duties of that station the experience of twenty years of public 
service as a legislator and judge. He was reelected for a sec- 
ond and a third term. He had been from the first organization 
of the two parties an extremely radical Anti-Federal leader, 
and died in that faith at the age of 88, in 181 3. 

On the 20th of April, 1791, General Washington arrived in 
Wilmington on his southern tour, coming from New Bern, and 
was met some miles from the town by the Light Horse Com- 
pany and escorted into the town, where he was received with 
salvos from a four-gun light battery, and the acclamations of 
a large crowd. He occupied the residence of Mrs. John 
Quince, on the southeast corner of Dock and Front streets, 
which that lady put at his service, it being one of the best in 
the town. The next day he was entertained at a large dinner 
by the gentlemen of the town, during which there was more 
artillery firing, and at night there was a general illumination 
and a grand ball. The day after, he proceeded on his journey, 
again, escorted by the Light Horse Company for many miles''' 
There is a tradition that during his stay what afterwards be- 

* Letter of Anna Jean Simpson, 25th April, 1791. to Mrs. Christian Fleming, published 
in the Wilmington Messenger, April 25, 1901. 


came a threadbare joke, was perpetrated by Laurence (called 
Lai) Dorsey, as follows : Dorsey kept the inn where the dinner 
was given, and the General, remarking upon the very flat and 
sometimes swampy nature of the surrounding country, asked 
Dorsey what sort of drinking water was used and if it was 
good, to which Dorsey (who was an impudent jester) replied 
that he reallv didn't know — that he never drank it. 


Fort Johnston and Smithvii.i.e: (now South port). 

The beautifully located town near the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River, rejoicing, from 1792 up to 1887, in the name of 
Smithville — so called in honor of Gen. Benjamin Smith — was 
in the latter year incorporated under the name Southport, 
through the solicitation of some northern speculators, who pro- 
posed to build a railroad to it and make it a city, but who have 
utterly failed to accomplish their benevolent design, except on 

It was built on the level ground surrounding Fort Johnston, 
and the town was always called "The Fort" by the Wilmington 
people who owned summer residences there, but by those who 
found Smithville too hard a word to pronounce, was designated 
as "Smiffle." The fort was built under the Acts of 1745, ch. 
6, and 1748, ch. 10, and the commissioners appointed to erect 
it were "His Excellency Gabriel Johnston, Esq., Governor ; the 
Honorable Nathaniel Rice, Robert Halton, Eleazer Allen, Mat- 
thew Rowan, Edward IMoseley, Roger Moore, William Forbes, 
Esqs., and Col. James Innes, Wm. Faris, Esq., Major John 
Swann and George Moore, Esq.," and the act says "it shall 
be called Johnston's fort, and shall be large enough to contain 
at least twenty-four cannon, with barracks and other conven- 
iences for soldiers." It was completed in 1748 The officer 
or offix:ers commanding it prior to 1755 are unknown to us, 
but in that year it was commanded by Capt. John Dalrymple, 
who was appointed by General Braddock. In 1758 it was com- 
manded by Capt. James Moore, afterwards Brigadier General 
in the Revolution, who, although quite young, was very highly 
spoken of by Governor Dobbs, and from 1766 to 1774 by Capt. 
Robert Howe, afterwards a distinguished Major-General in 
the Revolution. In less than two years after he gave up the 
command, Howe and Ashe burned the fort, while Captain Col- 

Governor Benjamin Smith 


let, its commander, and Governor Martin looked on in impotent 
rage from the deck of the "Cruizer," on which they had taken 
refuge. At that time, there were only the officers' quarters 
and small barracks, with one or two outhouses, on the premises, 
and no residents around it, except possibly a pilot or two. In 
the month of May, 1776, as heretofore stated, five British regi- 
ments occupied the fort. 

About 1790 the first start toward a settlement there by citizens 
was made, and an account of it was written by a chief actor in 
the movement, Joshua Potts, a part of which has been pre- 
served and was recently republished by the University under 
the title ''James Sprunt, Historical Monograph No. 4," as 
follows : 

Matters, even of consequence, have sometimes originated more by 
chance than design, A number of instances might be cited. It was the 
case relative to Smithville though a place not yet of great importance. 
The first movement happened as follows: 

About the year 1786 Joshua Potts, the writer hereof, then living in 
Wilmington, was taken sick and by medical attendance had got better, 
but notwithstanding, still continued very weak and a loss of appetite, 
etc. So it happened that his old friend, Capt. John Brown, who had 
been master of a packet that plied between Wilmington and Charleston, 
meeting me one day asked me to take a sail with him in an open boat 
down the river, saying that the salt air might recruit me, etc. 

Accordingly, debilitated as I was, I proceeded with him down the 
river Clarendon, or Cape Fear, in an open boat, being at the time only 
able to sit up. Captain Brown had put on board some eatable refresh- 
ments, but I had no thought of partaking any. We had not proceeded 
farther down than opposite the New Inlet when Capt. B. asked me to 
eat something. I listened to what he said, and discovered an inclina- 
tion to partake of such cold collation as he had set forth. My appetite 
returned and in a day or two I felt myself braced up by the effects of 
the salubrious breeze from the sea, although I was exposed in camping 
out, etc., for at that time there were only two or three pilots' houses 
on the bank. I returned to Wilmington in a few days perfectly re- 

I was at that time single, but in a year or two more became a married 
man, and in a summer season determined that my family should retire 
from Wilmington to Fort Johnston and there experience the cool and 
healthy sea breezes. Accordingly I carried my then small family down 
to the fort and rented the loft of a pilot house (Joe Swain's) where 
we were all stowed away, breathing health and rough pleasure. 


While thus living a fisherman's life, I received a letter from John 
Huske, Esq., of Wilmington, then in low health, on the subject of having 
a town laid off on the level, near Fort Johnston. Mr. Huske wished to 
reside there for the sake of his health. This letter was dated Wilming- 
ton, October 18, 1790, and it is herewith enclosed, No. 1. 

Mr. Huske would have called the proposed town Nashton had an act 
of the Assembly been passed, concerning which intelligence shall here- 
after be given. 

Mr. Huske was the first mover of a town near the fort, and I myself 
was to become the operator. I stepped oft' the ground from the old fort 
southward to the first small creek. The distance was shorter than 
what was wished. I accordingly wrote Mr. Huske; notwithstanding I 
was prevailed on to form a petition to be circulated through Brunswick 
County setting forth the prayer of the inhabitants that an act of the 
Assembly might be passed for the establishment of such a town. 

The , said petition accompanies the report, No. 2. J. Potts, having 
written said petition, was applied to for it by Charles Gause, Esq., a 
leading inhabitant of Brunswick County, who undertook the exhibition 
of it in order to obtain subscribers' names. This was performed and intro- 
duced in the General Assembly, which in that year sat in Fayetteville. 

The whole intention was unexpectedly opposed by General Smith, who 
was then a member of and for Brunswick County. It was said he sup- 
ported his negative role on account of two or three pilots who had 
built their houses by public permission promiscuously on said land. As 
it was, however, he had influence sufficient to stop the proceeding in the 
Assembly, and thus ended the prospects of a town at that time. 

Some people in Wilmington and others in Brunswick County, being 
disappointed in their expectations of a town, were said to have imputed 
the opposition of General S. to the cause, not of pilots, but that he had 
not been previously consulted in and about the business. 

Now, so it was that the old Fort Johnston as well as the surrounding 
lands was the property of the State of North Carolina, and that power 
alone the petitioners had relied on for the grant alluded to. 

Capt. John Brown and Joshua Potts determined, however, not to 
abandon the place, and, fearless of any molestation, proceeded to occupy 
as a temporary residence for summer and autumn, each a few square 
feet near the shore, and accordingly proceeded to have each a cabin 
formed and framed in Wilmington, and procured a sufficiency of the 
boards and shingles to complete these; employed a pettiauger and put 
on board the frames and other materials of both houses, engaged car- 
penters with their tools, and both families of said John and Joshua, 
with plenty of provisions, etc., all together went on board the lighter 
at Wilmington, arrived at Fort Johnston and there landed the whole. 

In a few days afterwards we had erected each a summer house, in a 


temporary manner, near the water, between where is now Mrs. Wade's 
and the beach. The said two houses, or camps, had not chimneys of 
any kind, and only rough shutters to the windows ( no glass ) , the whole 
of the sawmill roughness, as a plane had hot been used about them. Our 
two families were thus coarsely encamped; and instead of a kitchen 
our cooking fires were made among thick bushes near hand, which 
screened the inconvenience of the wind, but rain would sometimes 
moisten our cooking and depredating hogs would run off with our hot 
cakes in their mouths. 

In this way our families enjoyed health, cool breezes and a coarse 
way of living several summers. In the meantime Captain B. and 
myself became expert fishermen. 

During these rugged scenes there was no town laid off and only a few 
neighbors, pilots and their families. 

The first twelve months had nearly expired after the failure of the 
bill at Fayetteville, and the General Assembly were next to sit at New 
Bern. Who should come in my cabin at the fort but the same old 
Mr. Charles Gause, whose business was to get me to write and renew the 
petition for the establishment of said town. I remember reminding 
Mr. Gause that any such attempt must be of no use, as no doubt 
General Smith would oppose it as before. Mr. Gause replied in a 
positive voice that if I would copy off the petition he would advocate 
it as before, and that General Smith should not be sent to the Assembly 
unless he would use his endeavors to have a suitable act passed for the 
intended purpose. (The election was then pending.) 

Conformably to the request of Gause, I then wrote off a new petition 
much after the tenor of the first. 

The venerable old man made good his w^ord. General S, was elected, 
went to New Bern and assisted to get the act passed, and which is 
herewith enclosed. See No. 3, passed at New Bern, November session, 

The writer hereof remembers hearing General S. say, when he returned 
from the Assembly, that on his making a motion and offering the bill 
for the act, Mr, Macon or some other respectable member made an 
observation that many applications had been acted upon for different 
towns in the State, but that few, if any of them, had succeeded ; that 
the said worthy member said as General S, has applied in behalf of 
this petty town, it should be called Smithville, as if by way of derision 
to the applicant, should the town (like many others) not succeed. 

The next desirable object was to secure my attention and services in 
laying off and beginning the necessary operations to form the town. 
See a letter from General Smith, dated Belvidere, January 29, 1792, 
No. 4. 

By reading over the first Act of the Assembly, No. 3, it will be seen 
that the town was to consist of one hundred lots, with streets and 

2i6 HISTORY OF ne:w hanove:r county. 

squares; that each subscriber should pay forty shillings or four dollars, 
to the State, for each and every lot of half an acre he might determine, 
but no one person might subscribe to more than six lots, that many 
might have a chance. The plan of the tov^^n was at length sketched off 
by General Smith and J. Potts, and the lots numbered thereon from 
No. 1 to No. 100. Meanwhile all the lots were subscribed for. 

The rest of the manuscript, and also the documents referred 
to, are lost. Mr. Potts was a leading citizen of Wilmington. 

After the Revolution, the site of Fort Johnston reverted, 
as a matter of course, to the State of North Carolina, and it 
was in December, 1809, ceded to the United States by an Act 
of the Legislature of the State. The fort was a battery on 
the bluff above the river bank, and occupied a square in the 
center of what afterwards became the river front of the town. 
It was built of a material called "tapia," and the original con- 
struction of it was so good that Lieutenant Swift, afterwards 
General and Chief of Engineers of the United State Army, 
writing of it in 1804, said: , 

"In clearing away the sand I found much of the tapia walls 
then erected, finer in their whole length, on a front of the 
ordinary half bastion flanks and curtain of two hundred and 
forty feet extent, far superior to our contemplated plan for the 
battery of tapia." 

This tapia was "a composition consisting of equal parts of 
lime, raw shells and sand, and water sufficient to form a species 
of paste, or batter as the negroes term it," which was poured 
into boxes six feet high by seven feet in thickness, and con- 
stituted the parapet, and when hardened was probably suffi- 
cient to resist a bombardment by such artillery as was then in 
use. The fort was garrisoned by United States soldiers for 
many years after its reconstruction, and indeed up to within a 
few years before the war between the States. It was the 
favorite resort of the people on summer evenings, and especially 
of the young gallants and their sweethearts, who found the 
sea breeze and the moonlight on the bay fit accompaniments 
to love-making. 


Intere:sting Ite:ms From Court Minutes. 

As an introduction to these interesting court minutes an 
incident, recently related to the writer by the venerable Mr. 
Richard J. Jones, now in his eighty-eighth year, is worthy of 

Mr. Jones was coroner, and on the death of the sheriff be- 
came, by virtue of his office, Sheriff of New Hanover County 
at the close of the war of 1861-65, and he found the papers in 
the office of the sheriff and clerk scattered about the floor. 
Seeing one ancient looking bundle from which a part of the 
wrapper had been torn, he picked it up to restore it to a pigeon- 
hole and found that it contained an execution which had been 
returned by the Sheriff of Onslow County nearly a hundred 
years before, marked ''satisfied," and enclosed in it in Con- 
tinental money (N. C. currency) was the amount called for by 
the execution. He preserved some of the bills and has them 
now. Probably the invasion by the British in 1776, or 1781 
(which closed the courts) may account for the loss, or over- 
sight, of the package for so many years. 


The earliest court record (imperfect) is that of December 
Term, 1736, of the county court at Brunswick, and consisted 
chiefly of the probate of deeds, the one of earliest date being 
a deed from Porter to Moore, March 4, 1731. The first twenty- 
six pages of this record are missing, and therefore the names 
of the justices who held the court do not appear, but at the 
next term (March, 1737) Robt. Halton, Cornelius Harnett, 
James Innes, James Murray, and Nathaniel Rice were the 
presiding justices. 

These gentlemen were certainly model officials in one re- 
spect, for it appears from the proceedings of Thursday of that 
term that the court opened at eight o'clock. At this session the 


bounds of the several districts of New Hanover precinct were 
prescribed, these districts being Lockwood's Folly, Brunswick, 
Town Creek, Newton (Wilmington), The Sound, Rocky 
Point, and Welsh Tract.* In the last two, Burgo Creek, (now 
spelled Burgaw) is named as a limit. At this term also we 
first find that the marks and brands of cattle were recorded, 
and that a list of defaulting jurors were fined thirty shillings 
each; also the probate of a power of attorney from Ex-Gov- 
ernor Burrington to his wife Mary (whom he left in this 

The court was held at Brunswick quarterly until the year 
1740, when it began to be held at Wilmington, the first term 
there being held June 10, 1740, when ''His Majesty's Commis- 
sion of the Peace" was read and Matthew Rowan, Wm. Farris, 
James Murray, Sam. Woodward, Robt. Walker, Richard 
Eagles and Thos. Clark, Esqs., qualified as justices of said 
court, and Daniel Dunbibin produced the Governor's commis- 
sion as ''Notary Public and Tabellion" and qualified as such. 
This is the first appearance in our records of this ancient 
Roman and French official title, which continued in use for 
many years afterwards, and until 1802. 

At this term an interesting question was presented to the 
court when Mr. Samuel Swann offered for probate a paper de- 
scribed as the "intended will" of a man who had neglected to 
sign it, but which had been signed by three witnesses, one 
of whom was examined, etc. Mr. Swann argued the motion 
for probate, and the court recommended to the Governor to 
grant letters testamentary. 

At the June term, 1741, the first entry of the names of slaves 
authorized to carry guns as hunters on their masters' planta- 
tions was made by "Hon. Edwd. Moseley, Esq." for four men 
on his four plantationsj- and also the following: "Archd. 
Hamilton moved that Richd. Quince be excused from attending 
as a juror, it appearing he is a Freeman of one of the Cinque 

* So called from an intended Welsh settlement there. 

t At July Term, 1768, " Cornelius Harnett prayed leave for his man Jack to carry a gun 
at his two plantations, Maynard and Poplar Grove. Granted. 


ports in Great Britain, of which he produced sufficient testi- 
mony. Granted." 

At a later period ''searchers" were appointed for Brunswick 
and Wilmington, and "patroles" for the districts, the latter 
being often prominent men, such as "Saml. Watters, Capt. 
George Gibbs, and Danl. McFarland for Northwest district in 
St. Philip's Parish." Many licenses to men and women to keep 
"ordinaries" in town and country were granted, (some being 
refused), and in one instance an appHcation to keep a coffee- 
house, with license to sell liquors, was refused by the court 
on the ground that they had no authority under the law to 
grant such a license except to the keepers of ordinaries, al- 
though the court thought a coffee-house would be a public 

In 1759 it was ordered that all travelers passing over Mount 
Misery ferry, "except inhabitants of New Hanover and 
Bladen," should pay four pence Proc. (proclamation money) 
for ferriage. Licenses were required to build mills, and some- 
times land of adjacent owners was condemned for that 

An entry at the November term, 1759, says: ''The Court 
and Jury proceeded to choose grand and petit jurors for the 
next Supreme Court,'' but how they proceeded is not stated, 
whether by a boy drawing from a prepared list out of a box or 
hat, as at present, or not, does not appear. Of course the 
"Supreme" Court for which the jurors were chosen was the 
next Superior Court. 

At June term, 1760, Mr. Fred. Gregg brought into court an 
inventory of Governor Burrington's estate — a fair evidence of 
his recent death, the exact date of which has never been pub- 

About this period it was customary to fix tavern rates, chiefly 
for wines and liquors, of which there were many varieties. 

There were no courts from January, 1773, to April, 1774, 
because of the everlasting quarrels between the Governor and 
Council, and the Assembly, about various matters of legislation. 


neither of them being willing to do what the other desired, but 
the sessions of the County Court in New Hanover were re- 
sumed in April 1774, at which term one of the first entries is 
the probate of the will of the distinguished lawyer and former 
Speaker of the Assembly, Samuel Swann. 

At April term, 1775, Alfred Moore made his first appearance 
with a license from the Governor to practice law, and qualified ; 
and at the same term Timothy Bloodworth (who twenty years 
afterwards beat him for the United States Senate) was ap- 
pointed to keep the ferry between Wilmington and Negro 
Head Point. At October term, 1775, the clerk of the court, 
John London, was granted twelve months leave of absence to 
go to England on private business, and was authorized to 
appoint a proper person to officiate in his absence, and at the 
next (January, 1776) term he appointed Jonathan Dunbibin. 
The minutes from April term, 1776, to January term, 1777, 
are missing. This was attributable probably to the arrival of 
the British fleet under Sir Peter Parker, which entered the river 
April 1 8th and stayed until some time in June, as we see by the 
minutes of January terni, 1777, that Jonathan Dunbibbin was 
allowed £10 Proc. ''for the care of the records and for remov- 
ing them from place to place to secure them from the enemy." 

At January term, 1780, guardianship of Jane Quince and 
Ann Quince, daughters of Richard Quince, was granted to 
Richard and Parker Quince, they giving separate bonds for 
each ward in the sum of £300,000 each, showing that the 
estate was an unusually large one. At this term also, Henry 
Toomer, Wm. Hill and John Walker, Esqs., were appointed 
commissioners for taking into their possession the forfeited 
estates in the county, ''agreeable to law," and at the next term 
each of them gave a separate bond in the sum of £200,000. 

At the April term, 1780, the court chose three persons, viz, 
Francis Clayton, Francis Brice and John Walker, to "inspect 
money in this county. ""^ At the January term, 1781, the fol- 

* This was for the purpose of detecting counterfeits, which appear to have been largely- 
issued, and against which the most severe legislation had been enacted. See Acts of 1748, 
and up to 1784. 


lowing note is entered by the clerk at the end of the minutes: 
''Note — The British forces having landed at Wilmington under 
command of Maj. James Henry Craig on the 29th of January, 
1781, prevented the court being held until January term, 

At the January term, 1782, the will of CorneHus Harnett 
was proved and his widow, Mary, qualified as executrix, and 
administration on the estate of Gen. James Moore was granted 
to Alfred Moore during the absence of the executor, James 
Walker. At this term also a long list of absentees "supposed 
to be inimical to this State and to have forfeited their prop- 
erty," were required to appear and show cause why their 
several estates should not be confiscated. 

At October term, 1785, it was "ordered that each of the con- 
stables in this county during the sittings of the court do ap- 
pear in the court-house with a white staff not less than six feet 
long as a badge of their office." At the January term, 1786, 
a census of all free citizens was ordered to be taken by the 
captains of each company in the county. 

At the April term, 1786, the will of Gen. Alex. Lillington 
was proved. At the July term, 1786, the court (which had 
been meeting at private houses), adjourned from Mr. Jenning's 
house to the church, where they met, and the only business 
transacted there was the probate of the Vv^ill of Lewis H. De- 
Rosset, upon whose motion years before, (1750) in the Colonial 
Assembly, the church had been constructed. If this proceed- 
ing was without reference to that fact (and no mention is 
made of it) it was a strange coincidence. 

At the October term, 1786, the will of "the late Maj. Gen. 
John Ashe" was proved. 

At the October term, 1787, the following curious entry is 

"Thomas Lamb, having made it appear to the court that he 
could not bear the smell of hair-powder, flour, or wheat, it 
is ordered that he be exempted from attending as a juror this 


January term, 1788, "ordered that fifteen shillings be allowed 
for the scalps of bears, panthers and wolves, and two shillings 
for scalps of wildcats," and the same day a boy fourteen years 
old came into court and asked that a record be made of the 
fact that some time previously he lost part of his ear by the 
bite of a horse. The fact was fully proved and ordered to be 
recorded. The reason, of course, was that he wished to be 
protected from the suspicion that his ear had been clipped for 
crime, which was one mode of punishment. At the June term, 
1804, an entry was made that the Court was of the opinion 
that the scalp tax (on bears, wolves, panthers and wildcats), 
ought to be repealed, probably because it was becoming too 
heavy a drain on the treasury. At December term, 1804, ''on 
petition of Thos. N. Gautier ordered that a mulatto named 
Philip Bazadare be emancipated." This man was for years 
the chief musician of the town, and his memory was preserved 
in an amusing sketch by the late Col. James G. Burr. He was 
also the fashionable barber, and the trumpeter of the Tig'nt 
Horse Company, whose bugle blasts as he dashed about the 
streets sounding the "Assembly," brought out every boy in the 

Superior Court — (Ashe and Spencer, Judges). 
At the October term, 1765, the trial of a case which is men- 
tioned in all the histories of the State, but in every one of them 
is differently, and in all of them is erroneously, described, took 
place. This was the case of Capt. Alexander Simpson, com- 
mander of the sloop of war, "Viper," charged with the murder 
of Lieutenant Whitehurst, of the same ship. The only cor- 
rect account of the facts of this case that has ever been pub- 
lished, will be found in a foot note on page 127 of "A Colonial 
Officer and His Times,"* which is here reproduced, with the 
remark that since that note was published the latest and best 
history of the State, Ashe's, has appeared, but it also has the 
facts wrong by saying that the trial occurred at New Bern and 

* By Alfred Moore Waddell. 


that Simpson was acquitted, and that Judge Berry, beheving he 
was going to be suspended, killed himself. The following is 
the note above referred to, as taken from ''A Colonial Officer" : 

]^OTE. — ^As several of our historians have mentioned a certain duel 
fought by Capt. Alex. Simpson and Lieut. Thomas Whitehurst, of the 
ship "Viper," about the time of the Stamp Act excitement on the Cape 
Fear; and as not one of the statements given by these writers is correct, 
it may be well to give a true version of the aflfair as taken from the 
records. Wheeler, in his history, says that in February, 1766, a duel 
occurred between these parties; that Simpson sympathized with the 
colonists and Whitechurst (Whitehurst) favored Tryon; that White- 
hurst being killed, Simpson was arrested, tried before Ch. J. Berry and 
acquitted; that Tryon insinuated connivance on the part of Judge 
Berry, summoned him before the Council, and the Judge, in a frenzy of 
apprehension, committed suicide, and Wheeler quotes Martin as author- 
ity for his statement. "Shocco" Jones, in his "Defense of North Caro- 
lina," says Simpson was condemned, but escaped and fled to England. 
Moore, in his History, says that Simpson (not Whitehurst) was killed, 
and that Whitehurst was convicted of murder, but that Judge Berry 
"granted him enough time before execution to enable him to escape," 
and that "Tryon was furious and so wrought upon the fears of Judge 
Berry that he committed suicide," 

In the first place, the duel occurred in Brunswick, March 18, 1765, 
and was caused not by the Stamp Act excitement but ty a woman, 
according to Tryon's report to the Board of Trade. It was a brutal 
affair, in which Simpson not only broke Whitehurst's thigh with his 
shot, but broke his head with the butt of his pistol, breaking the butt 
and pan of the pistol at the same time. Simpson himself was shot 
behind the right shoulder, the ball coming out under his arm. The 
witnesses before the coroner's jury were Midshipmen James Brewster 
and James Mooringe. Simpson escaped the night before Governor 
Dobbs died, 28th March, and Tryon issued a proclamation offering £50 
reward for his arrest, and wrote to Governor Fauquier, of Virginia, 
saying that as Simpson had some months previously married "Miss 
Annie Pierson, daughter of Mrs. Ramsberg, whose husband keeps a 
tavern in Norfolk," and as Mrs. Simpson had returned to Virginia he 
suspected Simpson had gone there; that "the weak state of his health 
and the dangerous condition of his wound, strengthened this conjecture, 
and it was "not probable that he should undertake a long voyage," and 
he characterized Simpson's conduct as "extraordinary." It certainly 
was extraordinary, and why the seconds or witnesses permitted it is 
incomprehensible. Simpson afterwards surrendered himself, was tried 
at Wilmington, October term, 1765, (a month before the stamp ship 


arrived), was convicted of manslaughter, and branded with the letter 
M on the ball of the thumb of his left hand, in open court, and dis- 
charged, as appears by the record of the trial still preserved at the 
court-house in Wilmington. The allegation that Judge Berry's suicide 
was the result of his fright at the escape of Simpson, therefore, is 
wholly untrue. 

In a letter to the Board of Trade, dated February 1, 1766, Tryon 
says: "Mr. Berry, Chief Justice of this Province, shot himself in the 
head the 21st December last, and died in Wilmington the 29th of the 
same month.* The coroner's inquest sat on the body and brought in a 
verdict of 'Lunacy.' " This was two months after Simpson's conviction, 
and nearly a je&r after the duel. 

The following is a transcript of the record : 

Wilmington, 23d October, 1765. Court met according to adjourn- 
ment. Present, The Hon'ble Charles Berry, Esq., Chief Justice, Rob't. 
Howe, Esq., Associate Justice. 

Evidence sworn, 

Josh'a Grainger, Jr., 

Jon. Walker, 

Wm. Lord, The King 

Jon. Eustice, ' vs. 

Jon. Fergus, Alex'r. Simpson. 

Wm. Hill. 

On motion of the prisoner for counsel to be assigned him, Mr. Marma- 
duke Jones and Mr. Maurice Moore were admitted to speak to matters 
of Law, &c. 


1. John Anderson, 7. George Parker, 

2. John Daniel, 8. Wm. Campbell, 

3. Uz. Williams, 9- Wm. Robeson, 

4. Benj. Rhodes, 10. Rob't. Wails, 

5. John Watson, 11. Benj'm. Stone, 

6. Rob't. Walker, 12. John Gibbs. 

Verdict — Jury find the Deft, not guilty of murder but guilty of man- 

Court adjourned to Thursday morning. 

Thursday, 24th Oct. 1765. Court met according to adjournment. 
Present, the Hon'ble Charles Berry, Esq., Chief Justice, Rob't. Howe, 
Esq., his associate Justice. 

Alex. Simpson was brought to the Bar to receive sentence and prayed 

* McRee (Vol. I, 175) speaks of Judge Berry as "that amiable gentleman and upright 
Judge Charles Berry, Chief Justice of the Province." 


the benefit of his clergy — admitted. Ordered that he be branded on the 
ball of the thumb of the left hand with the letter M, which was executed 
in Court, and discharged by proclamation on paying the fees. 

May, 1782. Alfred Moore, Esq., produced the Governor's 
commission appointing him Attorney-General pursuant to his 
election by joint ballot of both Houses of the General Assem- 
bly, and took the oath. Mr. Iredell (whom he succeeded as 
Attorney-General) appeared as one of the attorneys at this term. 

November, 1782. At this term there were several indict- 
ments for murder and treason, and at the next term (May 
1783) pardons were pleaded in these cases. 

On the afternoon of the nth of July, 1787, in rear of the 
original St. James church, and in what is now Fourth street 
near its intersection with Market street, a fatal duel was fought 
between Maj. Samuel Swann and Mr. John Bradley. The 
circumstances that led to the duel illustrated both a straining 
of the point of honor on one side, and the bitter hostility exist- 
ing toward all Englishmen on the other. 

A shipwrecked British officer who had lost all his belongings 
was brought into Wilmington, and his condition appealed so 
strongly to Maj. Swann, who was a highstrung gentlemen of 
fortune and distinguished lineage, that he invited him to be- 
come an inmate of his house. Mr. Bradley was a merchant, and 
the Englishman happening one day to be in Bradley's shop 
when some rings disappeared, Bradley charged him with steal- 
ing them. The stranger was helpless, and knew that if a per- 
sonal encounter ensued and Bradley should be killed or even 
seriously injured, his own life would be the forfeit, but Swann 
immediately came to the rescue, and, asserting that the insult 
to his guest was an insult to himself, demanded an apology, 
which was peremptorily refused, whereupon he challenged 
Bradley. Swann, who had been an officer in the Revolution, 
was ''a crack shot," and on the way to the meeting place told 
his second that he did not wish to kill his opponent and would 
only inflict a flesh wound upon him. This he did, wounding 



him in his hip; but as Bradley fell he fired, and his bullet 
struck Swann in the head killing him instantly. What became 
of the stranger is not known, but it is painful to reflect that he 
might have been an impostor, and really guilty of the theft 
with which he was charged. 

At June term, 1788, of the Superior Court (Ashe, Spencer 
and Williams, Judges) Bradley filed a plea of pardon, which 
was demurred to, and the Court, after argument, took it under 
advisement and bound him over to the next term. 

At the next term (in December) the court rendered its judg- 
ment, which was that the pardon appearing on its face to have 
been granted "by influence of a recommendation of the General 
Assembly and for no other reason," and being insufficient by 
the laws of the State, the demurrer was sustained — Judge Wil- 
liams dissenting — and Bradley was bound over to the next 
term for trial, at which term he produced a second pardon and 
was discharged. 

March, 1791. The Attorney-General (Moore) having re- 
signed, John Louis Taylor, afterwards Chief Justice of North 
Carolina, was appointed Attorney-General pro tern, and Edward 
Jones, S. R. Jocelyn (a great lawyer), and Joshua G. Wright 
produced licenses, and qualified as attorneys. 

March, 1792. Edward Jones produced his commission as 
Solicitor-General, (a new office the creation of which caused 
Moore to resign) and qualified. 

May, 1796. Alfred Moore and Gen. Wm. R. Davie ap- 
peared as counsel on opposite sides, the two recognized leaders 
of the State bar. At this term a man from Onslow was in- 
dicted for murder, but the evidence showing that he had killed 
the deceased by a blow of his left fist given under the ear, the 
verdict was manslaughter, and the Governor pardoned him. 

November, 1797. Johnston Blakely, son of John Blakely, 
deceased, appeared in court and chose Edward Jones, Esq., as 
his guardian. Bond given £4,000, with Peter and Daniel Mal- 
lett and John Hay as sureties. Blakely was the naval hero 
of the War of 1812, and a worthy successor of Paul Jones. 


May, 1799. A man was sentenced to be hanged for grand 

May, 1803. Wm. Gaston and John Haywood appeared as 


1739-41 — ComeUus Harnett, Sr. (first sheriff). 

1741-42 — Thomas Clark. 

1743-44 — John Sampson. 

1745-46 — Robert Walker. 

1747-48 — Lewis DeRosset. 

1749-52 — Caleb Grainger. 

1753-56— John Davis, Jr. 

1756-59 — William Walker. 

1760-63 — John Walker. 

1764-65 — Arthur Benning. 

1766- — Obediah Holt. 

1767- — James Moran. 
1768-70 — John Lyon. 

1771-72 — Arthur Benning (No courts from February, 1772, 

to April, 1773). 
1774-75 — Wm. Campbell. 
^7^77- — James Bloodworth. 

1779- — Thomas Jones. 

1780- — Owen Kenan (British took possession and no 

courts from January, 1781, to January, 1782). 
1 782- 1 798 — Thomas Wright (longest in office, 16 years). 
1799- — William Nutt. 
1800-01 — David Jones. 
1802-03 — Wm. Bloodworth. 
1804- — Roger Moore. 


Albemarle 7 

Allen, Eleazar 8,12,21,23,44 

Anderson Fort 33 

Armand, Colonel 182 

Ashe, J. B 12,26,46 

Ashe, Col. J 166, 167, 187, 221 

Ashe, Samuel 210 

Assup 24 

Auburn 61 

Bald Head 179 

Barnett, Rev. J 16, 31 

Bartram 66 

JBath County 7 

Battle Moore's Creek 172 

Battle Eliabethtown 189 

Bear Inlet 7 

Belfont 66 

Belgrange 45, 68 

Belvidere 48 

Belville 48 

Benning, A 37 

Bevis, Rev. C 13,67 

Bishop 15 

Bladen County 7 

Blakeley, J 226 

Blanning, H 194 

Bioodworth 208, 209, 220 

Blue Banks 20 

Bluff, The 60 

Borough of Wilmington 193 

Boston 77 

Boundary line 7, 8 

Boyd, Rev. A 102, 198 

Rowlands 58 

Braddock 22 

Bridgen 72 

Brown's Inlet 7 

Brown, Col. T 66, 189 

Brown, Capt. J 213 

Brompton 67 

Brunswick 9, 19, 23, 24, 25, 28 

Burgaw Creek . 218 

Buchoi 47 

Burgwin, J 38, 98 

Burr, J. G 202 

Burrington . . . 8,19,21,24,39,219 

Calder, Lieutenant 30 

Camp, Rev. J 16 

Carthagena 22 

Carey, Greorge 181 

Castle Haynes 53 

Caswell, R 79 

Caswell, W 184 

Charleston 15 

Charming Peggy 28 

Cedar Grove 51 

Church, St. Philip's 12 

Church, St. James's 200 

Clarendon County 7 

Clarendon Plantation 47 

Clark, Gen. Thos., 41, 62, 63, 64, 65 

Clayton, Francis 56, 181 

Clinton, General 171,179 

Cobham 61 

Collet, Captain 166 

Convention 208 

Corbett, Archd 205 

Cornwallis 171, 179, 182 

Council of Safety 180 

Cruizer Sloop . . 166, 173, 181, 213 
Craig, Major 182 

Dallison 61 

Dalrymple 22, 46, 212 

Davis, John 14, 21, 39, 46 

Davis, Maj. Wm 179 

DeRosset, Mayor 27, 53, 196 

DeRosset family 51, 52 



DeRosset, Louis 52, 201 

DeKeyser, L 56, 96, 199 

Devane, Colonel 173, 210 

Dick 14 

Dickson, Wm 183 

Diligence Sloop 28 

Dickinson, Colonel 189 

Dobbs Sloop 28 

Dorsey, L 211 

Dobbs, Gov.. . . 9, 11, 14, 23, 25, 46 

Dram Tree 23 

Dry, Wm 14, 15, 22, 29, 196 

Ducking Stool 197 

Dudley, C 15 

Dunbibin, D 196 

Duncan, A 196 

Duplin 9, 12, 183 

Dyer, M 191,205 

Eagles 14, 15, 47 

Education 203 

Entry Book (note) 28 

Evans 15 

Female adventuress 73 

Finian 71 

Fire in Wilmington 73 

Fisher, Fort 25 

Forks, The 47 

Fieldwork, Craig's 187 

Gabourel 20 

Gaston, Wm 227 

Gause, Charles 214 

Gazette, N. C 198 

Gazette, S. C 34, 187 

Gillespie, Colonel 189 

Godden, Colonel 189 

Godfrey, Thos 203 

Gooch, Colonel 22 

Gorman, Michael 182 

Governor's Point 39 

Graham, Maj. Jos 187 

Grainger, Caleb 50, 196 

Grainger, Joshua 191, 205 

Gregg, F 34, 196 

Green Hill 57 

Guerard 68 

Halton, R 21, 22, 23, 50 

Halton Lodge 49 

Harnett, C. Sr 10,11,21,28 

Harnett, C. Jr., 34, 79, 81, 179, 

180, 185, 196 

Hasell, Ch. J 45, 68, 73 

Haywood, John 227 

Hellier, R 195 

Hermitage, The 53 

Heron, B 22, 186, 196 

Higgins, M 194, 201 

Hilton 49 

Hill, Wm 17,87 

Holt 72 

Houston, Dr 26 

Hooper, Wm 64, 185, 197, 208 

Hostler 202 

Howe, Gen. Robt.. . . 23, 41, 65, 

166, 179 

Howe's Point 40, 72 

Hullfields 46 

Huske, John 214 

Hyrneham 55 

Iredell, James 181 

Irvine, Colonel 189 

Innes, Colonel 192 

Jocelyn, S 202 

Johnston, Gov. . . 11, 19, 23, 24, 191 

Johnston, Fort 22, 212 

Jones, Edward 209 

Jones, Marmaduke 196 

Jones, R. J 217 

Jones, Willie 208 

Jumping Run 49 

Kenan, Col. J 104, 168, 186 

Kenan, Owen 96 

Kendall 42 



Laurens ^' 

Lee, Light Horse Harry 190 

Lee, Gen. Charles 181 

Liberty Pond ■• • • 180 

Lillington, General 29, 59, 

168, 186, 221 

Lilliput 44 

Lloyd, Thos 29, 34 

Lobb, Captain 29 

London, J 220 

Lockwood's Folly 19 

Love, Lieutenant 186 

Lyon, John 196 

Mabson, A. . 91, 196 

Maclaine, A 60, 92, 208, 200 

Magnolia 61 

Mallett, P 199 

Marion, General 67 

Martin, Governor 73, 166 

Martin, Colonel 181 

Masonboro 70 

Mason, Caleb 197 

Masonic Lodge 199 

Mass, Gazette 77 

Maxwell, P 68 

McDonald 74 

McLeod, A 7o 

McRee family 43, 44 

Mecklenburg Declaration .... 80 
Mercury, Cape Fear... 37,84,198 

Moore, Col. Maurice 18, 22 

Moore, Roger 19, 20, 23, 41 

Moore, Nathaniel 20, 21, 41 

Moore, George 28, 57 

Moore, Gen. Jas.. . . 23, 30, 34, 181 

Moore, Judge Maurice 198 

Moore, Judge Alfred. 47,186, 

209, 220 

Moorefields 57 

Morehead, Colonel 67, 189 

Moseley, Edward 23, 55 

Moseley Hall 57 

McGallant 55 

Mulberry 61 

Murray, James 23, 62, 195 

Nash, General 181 

Neck, The 57 

Negro Head Point 48 

New Inlet 25 

Newton 23,191 

Oakland 66 

Oak, The 54 

Old Town 44, 47 

Orton 42 

Owen, Colonel 66, 189 

Parry, Captain 175 

Patience Sloop 28 

Pennington 30 

Person, Thos 208 

Pleasant Hall 55 

Pleasant Oaks 44 

Point Repose 62 

Point Pleasant 54 

Poplar Grove 50 

Porter, John 39, 72 

Potts, Joshua 213 

Prospect 61 

Purviance, Colonel 70,171 

Quince, Richard . 37, 81 

Quince, Parker 77, 78 

Quincey, Josiah 76 

Recorder 193 

Regulators 32 

Rice 23, 24, 45 

Robeson, Col. Thos 67, 189 

Robinson, Wm 196 

Rock Hill 51 

Rocky Point 38 

Rocky Run 51 

Rose Hill 51 

Rouse Tavern 186 

Rowan, Matthew 23, 205 

Ruby Sloop 28 

Russellboro 42* 

Rutherford, John 58 

Rutherford, General 168, 190 



Safety Committee 79 to 165 

Sampson, John 196 

Sans Soiici 50 

Schawfields 61 

Scotch Highlanders 74 

Sedgeley Abbey 68 

Sheriffs of New Hanover 227 

Slingsby, Colonel 189 

Smallwood, J 201 

Smith, Landgrave 38 

Smith, Benjamin 200,214 

Spring Garden 45, 55 

Sprunt, James 40, 41 

Stag Park 58 

Stamp Act 25 

Strawberry . 56 

Stewart, Andrew 198 

Stevens "One" 31 

Swain, Jo 213 

Swain, Governor 167 

Swann Point 55 

Swann, Samuel 54 

Swann-Bradley duel 225 

Swift, Lieutenant 216 

Tabellion 218 

Tapia 216 

Tate, Rev. J 214, 209 

Toomer, Lewis 20, 21 

Tory Hole 190 

Tryon, Governor 25, 73 

Vats, The 56 

Viper Sloop 28 

Waddell, General 30, 51, 66 

Waddell, John 48 

Walker, Maj. Jack 69, 181 

Walnut Grove 67 

Washington's visit 210 

Washington, Col. Wm 182 

Watson, John 191 

Webster, Lieutenant-Colonel . . 66 

Wlieat 39 

Whitfield, Wm 180 

Whitehurst-Simpson duel 222 

Wilmington 191 

Wimble 191,205 

Wright, Colonel 189 

Wright, Judge J. G 210 

York Plantation 41 


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